Jazz piano master Herbie Hancock set out to mark the 100th anniversary of George Gershwin's birth with this excellent collection. The music comprises Gershwin's own works together with pieces that would have inspired him, from classical composer Ravel to stride piano legend James P Johnson.
Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, James Carter and Kenny Garret all make contributions. But it is the prescence of Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell that really make this a special occasion.
Stevie's distinctive chromatic harmonica in particular is all over some of the best tracks. And Joni Mitchell comes over all chanteuse!
For me the highlights are Ravel's Concerto For Piano And Orchestra In G, Mitchell and Wonder's take on Summertime, and the funky version of WC Handy's St Louis Blues.
A legendary artist plays another legend, one of the best jazz composers. I particularly like Summertime, but I like this song in any version, so it's not fair to pick up only one song. The whole album is superb, you can listen to it anywhere and anytime.
As I write this review I am surprised that no-one else on Amazon has written one yet. So here I go: This is a tremendous CD described by Herbie himself as 'the most challenging project I have ever done', summoning musicians from all areas of the musical spectrum to create an emotional, daring and powerful masterpiece that celebrates the music and life of one of the worlds greatest ever composers - George Gershwin. The Album begins with a 'tune' called overture (fascinating rhythm) where the actual melody does not appear only 2 chords and primarily African drummers pumping out some truly fascinating rhythms. The next track 'it ain't necessarily so' swings with lyricism and cool-ness which features some extremely smooth tenor sax playing from James Carter and Alto Sax from Kenny Garrett. The next track a ballad - 'the man I love' features the barely-recognizable but unique and elegant vocals from the great Joni Mitchell and accompanied in true style by Wayne Shorter on tenor sax. By far the best track on this CD, is a unique version of 'St.Louis Blues'. The mouth-watering combination of Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder make this an absolute gem, the rhythm is robust and after all the years Stevie still sounds fantastic his voice full of power and emotion. If you buy this album for one track alone then get it for this one. The next great track is the great Gershwin anthem 'Summertime' which is played beautifully by 4 true living legends of music - (Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell), this track is indescribable, just listen to it and be wowed. The rest of the album doesn't in my opinion reach the level of creativity and power that preceded it, however the majority of the album is fantastic and is a crystal-clear example of the fact that Herbie has still got it and his creative and virtuosic musical skills are showing no signs of waning. This is an incomparable and unique album that is definitely an essential addition to ANY jazz collection.
Gershwin's World is a very good tribute and it sounds a whole lot better on SACD. Wonder why Mr. Hancock and Joni Mitchell (who sounds faboulous here) do not reissue some of their work on high resolution formats.