In 1924 bandleader Paul Whiteman, the reigning "King of Jazz," introduced his unruly domain to Gotham highbrows, premiering George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue
with its composer at the piano. Gershwin described his piece better than any reviewer could as "a musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, our unduplicated national pep, our blues, our metropolitan madness." True to its name, Rhapsody
revolves thematically around the blues scale that is central to jazz. From its outrageous opening clarinet glissando—as instantly recognizable as the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony—to its final triumphant chord, Rhapsody in Blue
exudes Jazz Age chutzpah. Here covered by the New York Philharmonic with piano soloist Gary Graffman, as conducted by Zubin Mehta especially for Woody Allen's Manhattan
(1979), Gershwin's crowning glory remains a vibrant, everlasting monument of Americana.
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