I forget where I heard it, but some musician - maybe it was Dave Brubeck - was studying under the great classical composer Darius Milhaud sometime during the first half of the 20th century, & DH told the student, regarding then-contemporary composers, to bone-up on Duke Ellington and George Gershwin, as they were the only TRUE American composers, composers who weren’t trying to ape the European model.
Although both Duke and Gershwin learned from the Old Masters From Across the Pond, both were uniquely "American" in their styles, both synthesizing the glorious clashing of sounds of NYC in the early 20th century. Folk songs, ragtime, blues, klezmer, jazz, the French impressionist Maurice Ravel, theater music - all made an impression on the young George, who went on to compose or co-write one of the most magically enduring bodies of song in American history. (In case young readers might think GG’s stuff belongs to another, square-er era, his influence can be felt in more recent tunesmiths Elvis Costello, Diane Warren and Randy Newman, not to mention those Brits Lennon & McBeatle.) His songs were performed/interpreted into Immortality by Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Benny Goodman, Sarah Vaughn and more.... any they’re here
. but a few of his tunes that became standards: "A Foggy Day," "Embraceable You," "Summertime." Also, GG composed some swell classical works, and some tastes of that are here, too: most notably "Rhapsody In Blue," which is as uniquely and vibrantly American as Chuck Berry’s "Back In The USA" and a corned beef sandwich at Katz’s Deli on Houston St., NYC. "Rhapsody" taps into those crazy-quilt, hustle-bustle Rhythms of that city, and that fascinatin' beat you can only hear if you've lived there, if only for a day. I don’t use the "E" word much, BUT this 41-track 2-CD set is ESSENTIAL to anyone wanting or needing an understanding of timeless American pop music - the Big G is up there with The Duke, Louis Armstrong, Bill Monroe, Elvis Presley and Muddy Waters as one of The Ones who define American music, now & for eternity.