Crazy Rhythm: Exploring George Gershwin

SSC1693 2023-06-30

Track List

Summertime - 8:43
How Long Has This Been Going On - 4:33
S’Wonderful - 2:48
Bess You Is My Woman Now - 7:30
It Ain’t Necessarily So - 7:41
By Strauss - 4:09
Man I Love - 5:47
My Man’s Gone Now - 2:48
I’Ve Got A Crush On You - 6:34
Fascinating Rhythm - 4:14
I Was Doing All Right - 3:51


Denny Zeitlin - piano

For nearly a decade, the endlessly exploring pianist / composer / improviser Denny Zeitlin has focused on an individual composer for his annual solo concert at Oakland’s Piedmont Piano Company. Zeitlin brings his full creative force to these efforts to transform these well-known pieces into remarkable musical journeys. In 2018, Zeitlin decided to focus on the great American composer, George Gershwin, for his concert and recorded the proceedings, released now as Crazy Rhythm: Exploring George Gershwin.

George Gershwin is one of the celebrated composers of the early 20th century. During his short lifetime, he wrote orchestral and musical works, many times in conjunction with his brother, Ira, establishing a valuable catalog of Tin Pan Alley and Broadway tunes that have been recontextualized for generations as standards, providing the basic framework for jazz performance. The composer successfully bridged two seemingly distinct musical spheres, in classical and popular music, a feat that Zeitlin always appreciates in artists and strives to do in his own music.

Zeitlin grew up listening to the music of Gershwin. His parents loved both the popular and symphonic works. Zeitlin remembers as a child being especially galvanized by the music to An American In Paris. Years later, it was the reinterpretation of Gershwin’s musical Porgy and Bess by Miles Davis and Gil Evans that expanded Zeitlin’s appreciation of the music’s potential as a springboard for improvisation.

When it came time to prepare for his Gershwin concert, Zeitlin began to hone pieces that he would consider for performance. A few months out he began to look at a Gershwin songbook, hoping to find pieces that he never heard or studying pieces that he knew, trying to find new dimensions within each piece. His aim was to breathe fresh life into the pieces and provide new flavors that listeners might appreciate.

On December 7, 2018, Zeitin returned to Piedmont Piano Company and sat down at a beautiful concert grand that he had selected himself to bridge Gershwin’s timeless pieces to contemporary explorations in improvisation.