Jeffrey Siegel plays Rhapsody in Blue

Concert recorded on the afternoon of Sunday, January 21, 2024 at Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, and broadcast by SLPR on Saturday, January 27, at 7.30 p.m. local time

This three-concert jazz-related series came to a close with Rhapsody in Blue – a double celebration, the piece’s centenary, and fifty years since Jeffrey Siegel and Leonard Slatkin recorded it in St. Louis for Vox, a version that remains very recommendable, especially in its current Audiophile reincarnation…

… and of course using Ferde Grofé’s symphony scoring (he also did the instrumentation for the Paul Whiteman premiere in New York City, with Gershwin himself at the piano, and at least two other versions, including a further symphony publication made following the composer’s death). Good to know that Mr Siegel, now aged eighty-one, remains active and has lost none of his enthusiasm for the Gershwin or his artistic closeness to Slatkin and SLS.

The concert opened with A Joplin Overture (1973) by Paul Turok, reasonably effective adaptations of two rags by Scott Joplin – a one-time resident in St. Louis – including The Entertainer. Arriving a couple of years prior to Gershwin’s Rhapsody, John Alden Carpenter’s Krazy Kat (a Jazz Pantomime) turned out to be musically convivial and charmingly descriptive of adventures. However, Zodiac (background below) by Mary Lou Williams (1910-81), for jazz trio and orchestra, proved a revelation, a salute to some of Williams’s colleagues – such as Miles Davis and Woody Herman – under their respective star-signs, twelve movements in all of course, all were played (not the original plan), with the Aaron Diehl Trio (piano, bass, drums) and the SLS sharing the honours in combo or separately for such inventive music – feelgood, pulsating, sweet, enigmatic, and with much character – with a scintillating Williams encore from the Trio as an encore. That’s all folks.

Paul Turok A Joplin Overture
Mary Lou Williams Zodiac Suite (First SLSO performance)
John Alden Carpenter Krazy Kat
George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue