Post image for Cabaret Review: THE ALL NEW A RHAPSODY OF GERSHWIN (Matt Baker)

by Paulanne Simmons on June 7, 2023

in Concerts / Events,Theater-New York


Aussie jazz pianist Matt Baker says his earliest introduction to the work of George Gershwin was when a schoolmate played Rhapsody in Blue. His love of Gershwin was cemented with the release of Herbie Hancock’s Gershwin’s World.

In time Baker met and learned from Hancock, who even taught him how to get ketchup out of the bottle during a concert at the Blue Note. But Baker is no imitator, as anyone at Chelsea Table & Stage for A Rhapsody of Gershwin on June 6 would have quickly realized. With guitarist Max Light, double bassist Kevin Haley, drummer Curtis Nowosad, vocalist Nicole Zuraitis, and the multi-talented trumpeter/vocalist Benny Benack III, Baker presents a Gershwin repertoire like you’ve never heard before.

Of course Baker and his band cover some of Gershwin’s most beloved songs: “Summertime,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me.” But even traditional songs are given untraditional treatment. And their mashup of “I Got Rhythm” and “Fascinating Rhythm” is a work of innovative genius.

Baker separates the themes of “Rhapsody in Blue” into individual songs and improvises widely on Gershwin’s concertos. Throughout, the musicians play as if they’ve been together for ages.

Zuraitis’s voice is sublime, whether she’s scatting, vocalizing without words or singing a song. And Benack delivers virtuoso performances with both his trumpet and his voice. But Baker makes sure every member of the band has enough solos to demonstrate their extraordinary abilities.

If you’re a devoted Gershwin fan or someone who likes hot jazz that makes the room jump, Baker and his band are performers to watch.

A Rhapsody of Gershwin
Chelsea Table & Stage, 152 West 26 Street
played June 6, 2023
for more info, visit Matt Baker

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gordon Cooper June 11, 2023 at 8:56 pm

Sorry I could not attend. Next time. Bravo for the accolades. Cheers!


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