Ted Rosenthal, an early winner of the Thelonious Monk jazz piano competition, has played George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” solo and with symphonic and jazz orchestras. Now he’s recorded a version for jazz trio, as part of an all-Gershwin album. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says, Rosenthal has a feel for the material.
As familiar as “Rhapsody in Blue” is, you can overlook how radical it sounded—this slick symphonic jazz laced with blues feeling—back in 1924 when jazz rhythm could still be rickety. “Rhapsody”’s riffing themes are readymade for improvised variations, and many jazz bands have recorded abridgements that zoom in on the best bits. Bucking that trend, Ted Rosenthal’s trio plays the whole 17-minute thing. It’s a showcase for the pianist and bassist Martin Wind, who divvy up the melodies. Drummer Tim Horner sometimes sounds hemmed in by his written parts.