Richard Dowling and Frederick Hodges perform Gershwin

Hodges DowlingWhile waiting expectantly for the upcoming release of Richard Dowling’s multi-disc set of the Complete Scott Joplin (which will be put out by Rivermont), it is a good excuse to enjoy Gershwin, a collaboration with fellow pianist Frederick Hodges from a few years ago. On two pianos, Dowling and Hodges perform “Rhapsody In Blue,” the lengthy three-part “Concerto In F,” “I Got Rhythm Variations” and “Porgy And Bess Fantasy For Two Pianos.”

For three of the four pieces, Dowling and Hodges were confronted with arrangements of the classic Gershwin works for two pianos that were a bit inadequate in the second piano part. Hodges (on “Concerto In F” and “I Got Rhythm Variations”) and Dowling (“Rhapsody In Blue”) rewrote their part to more fully reflect what an orchestra would play behind the lead piano. In the case of “Porgy And Bess,” the 1951 arrangement by Percy Grainger, which covers all of the main themes from the folk opera, was considered up to the high standards demanded by the pianists.

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Due to the new variations (which include an additional ragtime-flavored variation added to “I Got Rhythm”), these performances will be considered fresh and new even for listeners who have many versions of the works and can sing along with the themes. The performances are virtuosic, flawless and lively with both of the pianists displaying plenty of obvious affection for the rich melodies.

Gershwin (Rivermont BSW-2227, 4 selections, TT = 79:10) www.rivermontrecords.com

Scott Yanow

Since 1975 Scott Yanow has been a regular reviewer of albums in many jazz styles. He has written for many jazz and arts magazines, including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Down Beat, Cadence, CODA, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and was the jazz editor for Record Review. He has written an in-depth biography on Dizzy Gillespie for AllMusic.com. He has authored 11 books on jazz, over 900 liner notes for CDs and over 20,000 reviews of jazz recordings.

Yanow was a contributor to and co-editor of the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz. He continues to write for Downbeat, Jazziz, the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, the Jazz Rag, the New York City Jazz Record and other publications.

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