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Jim Holthouser | Double Take

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Jazz: Piano Jazz Classical: Piano solo Moods: Solo Instrumental
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Double Take

by Jim Holthouser

Piano variations on some of George Gershwin's most beloved Broadway hits, side by side with the stock version. These personal arrangements, (as Gershwin played them at parties) gives us an inside look into George Gershwin the man, as well as the musician.
Genre: Jazz: Piano Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. S'wonderful
3:22 $0.99
2. Sweet and Low Down
3:26 $0.99
3. I Got Rhythm
3:59 $0.99
4. Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away)
6:33 $0.99
5. Do Do Do
3:11 $0.99
6. The Man I Love
4:04 $0.99
7. Fascinating Rhythm
2:50 $0.99
8. Do It Again
3:36 $0.99
9. Lady Be Good
3:07 $0.99
10. Somebody Loves Me
3:40 $0.99
11. Stairway to Paradise
2:23 $0.99
12. Who Cares?
3:53 $0.99
13. Clap Yo Hands
2:47 $0.99
14. Strike Up the Band
4:12 $0.99
15. My One and Only (Variation)
1:11 $0.99
16. Nobody but You (Variation)
1:08 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
In March of 2016, I asked Jim for a favor. I was in the midst of editing AEWorks Blues Alley, a web series about the beginnings of blues and American culture, when I realized we needed more music for the underscore.
Jim and I set up a session to record a handful of W.C. Handy tunes. (Several of these tracks can be heard on Jim’s album “Way Down South Where The Blues Began” available now at your favorite download or streaming service). Because AEWorks is a non-profit, this was purely a charitable contribution on Jim’s part. Since I wasn’t paying him, I wanted to find some way to say thank you.

I’d known Jim for several years. The first time we met, he was sitting at a grand piano playing Rhapsody In Blue for a room of eight hundred dinner guests. When I began looking for an appropriate “thank you” for his help with Blues Alley, Gershwin seemed like a winner. Then... I stumbled across this book of Gershwin Variations. I’d never seen these before. The preface of the book claims that the arrangements - by Gershwin himself - reflect the way he played these pieces at parties and other gatherings.
A few weeks later Jim called saying how much fun these pieces were and played a few bars over the phone. My first thought of course was, “Judy’s got the costumes, the Judge has a barn… We could put on a show!” or at least record an album. After a cursory search, I could only find one other recording of these pieces – which is both a gift and a shame. These versions of Gershwin’s most famous standards deserve to be heard. We could make that happen.
The tracks on Double Take are the result. Recorded during a handful of, one-day sessions throughout 2018 & early 2019, we decided to put the stock arrangements side by side with the variations for comparison.
Speaking for both Jim and myself, we hope you enjoy listening to these pieces as much as we’ve enjoyed recording them.

Alan Reitano, CEO AEWorks

I’ve been an admirer of George Gershwin most of my life. As a musician, I’ve played his Preludes for Piano, Rhapsody in Blue, and Porgy and Bess since I was a teenager; as an entertainer, I’ve fulfilled many hundreds of requests for his pop songs; and as a senior executive and public speaker, I’ve used Gershwin’s music and life story to inspire business leaders – the chronology of Gershwin’s career is a perfect example of the rewards and legacies that result when a person has the courage to push personal boundaries and continually evolve and reinvent. So, without a doubt, I’m an ardent fan of Gershwin’s music and life story, and when Alan asked me to undertake the Double Take project together, it fell into the category of “no brainer”.
Beyond personally enjoying Gershwin’s music, however, I believe the project has merit for two reasons:
One, with Gershwin’s music closing in on 100 years, Double Take presents an opportunity to expose new generations of music lovers to the popular works of one of America’s musical greats. Gershwin’s work has already passed the test of time, proving it can “speak” relevantly across multiple generations. However, without continued exposure to up-and-coming generations, Gershwin and his music run the risk of obscurity. Double Take is one small step we can take to expose these musical gems and then keep them in the consciousness of up-and-coming generations.
Two, with its unique juxtaposition of original Broadway songs and their corresponding variations, Double Take creates an opportunity to experience Gershwin in a fun, new way, even for the most seasoned fan. For each of 14 Broadway hits, we begin by playing one full verse of the Broadway original to orient the listener, which is then immediately followed by Gershwin’s own variation of that song. As I prepared these pieces, I mentally pictured these Broadway songs and variations as two paintings of the same subject hanging side by side: the first is a concrete, uncomplicated and familiar depiction (the Broadway version), while its counterpart is more complex, abstract and nuanced (the variation). Same subject, but different experiences.
One final question Alan and I wrestled with was how best to approach these pieces musically. Should we treat them as pop music and allow ourselves more freedom in interpretation and style? Or should we approach them as serious compositions with stricter adherence to the way Gershwin wrote and instructed? In the end, we opted to play the Broadway originals in a pop style to allow ourselves greater artistic latitude, particularly in the interpretation of the verses; however, we agreed to treat the variations as more serious compositions with few deviations from the original score to give the listener the most authentic rendition of Gershwin’s own improvisations.
We hope you enjoy Double Take – a presentation of timeless Gershwin classics alongside their one-of-a-kind variations. It’s Gershwin as few have heard him.

Jim Holthouser

Performed by: Jim Holthouser
Produced by: L Alan Reitano
Cover Art Design: Katherine C Holthouser & L Alan Reitano



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