Friday, February 17, 2017

Metropolis (A Blue Fantasie; Ferde Grofe)--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1928

Click here to hear: Metropolis (A Blue Fantasie; Grofe)--Paul Whiteman and His Concert Orch., 1928.

Ripped by me from my two 12" 78 rpm copies, which are 1930s reissues but which sound fine, though likely a bit duller in fidelity than the original pressings.  I previously featured these in 2010, and in decent sound, but I think the present rips sound way more vivid, with deeper bass and sharper highs.  (Deeper bass and sharper highs?  I should be writing TV ads.)

Anyway, Metropolis is sort of famous as an allegedly botched attempt at concert jazz, despite the fact that 1) it works just fine in that regard, if you ask me, and 2) until 1989 (with Willem Breuker Kollektief's amazing version) the 1928 Whiteman disc was its sole recording.  What has kept Metropolis a topic of jazz and Classical discussion is, as always, Grofe's connection to Gershwin as the orchestrator of Rhapsody in Blue--that, plus his rather unfair reputation as the guy who did the crappy commercial charts for Paul Whiteman while Bill Challis and others were writing progressive stuff.  (Never mind that Challis was a big fan of Ferde.)  Whiteman has caught hell from jazz critics for many decades now--he was fake jazz, didn't swing, yada yada--and Grofe, being his chief arranger, is co-condemned.  Being one of popular music's most gifted innovators doesn't always pay off, at least critically.

Grofe wasn't Gerswhin; he wasn't Challis; he wrote charts for Whiteman; and he hit the Classical big-time with his Grand Canyon Suite, an alleged piece of fluff (derivative fluff, at that).  Not my verdict, but pretty much the standard one until the arrival of...

...the digital age, with Grofe getting some long-overdue nice press, and with an astonishing number of his pieces having seen the light of CD (even his Niagara Falls and Hollywood suites!).  And we have friend-of-MY(P)WAE Kevin Tam resurrecting such Grofe gems as San Francisco Suite and Selections in a Wine Cellar.  I still can't believe all of this is actually happening.

At last, a Grofe discography that extends beyond the Grand Canyon and Mississippi suites.  All it took was the invention of CDs.  Plus, newly-available Grofe scores!


1 comment:

mel said...

What a rarity!

And just my cup of tea.

Many thanks, Lee.