Gershwin: Preludes; Improvisations

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Preludes; Improvisations
PERFORMER: Wayne Marshall (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45298 2
After the three Preludes, this disc collects Wayne Marshall’s improvisations on favourite songs by Gershwin. With improvisation, you take the rough with the smooth, though when it gets as far as disc, there should be a few takes to choose from. The review copy came without a booklet, and perhaps it would tell you if all the tracks are unedited. Some are disappointingly doodling affairs, depending on short-term effects and yielding a frustrating stop-start result. Surely the art of improvisation should be aimed at more than the momentary thrill, more at sustaining a line and telling a story. Marshall expands on only one track – based on ‘Summertime’ – which he spins out as if hypnotised by a ticking clock, subjects to a darkly contrapuntal episode, and then casts obliquely in a brighter tonal context. Other, much shorter tracks which have some sort of momentum are ‘Fascinating Rhythm’, ‘Lady Be Good’, ‘Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off’ and ‘I Got Rhythm’. The rest is wallpaper. Adrian Jack