After 53 years, Nelson’s iconic arrangements for his Ella Fitzgerald Gershwin Songbook album are brought to life with resounding success. This evening a capacity crowd packed in to Carnegie Hall for this historic performance with the New York Pops, Nelson Riddle Orchestra and vocalist Patti Austin. Maestro Steven Reineke hosted proceedings with his usual suave demeanor and radiant musicianship. Together with his phenomenal cohort of musicians, who are unquestionably New York’s finest, Reineke pulled out all of the intricate textural and dynamic characteristics of these awe inspiring arrangements to provide us with a remarkable sonic, artistic and notably emotional experience.
Our own Christopher Riddle was obviously feeling that emotion following his conducting of movements from the Cross Country thanks in no small part to the impeccable technique and artistry of clarinetist John Moses. Talking with Chris backstage immediately before going on stage he related stories of Nelson taking him to those Grammy Award winning sessions, with Buddy deFranco back in 1958 when, he was just 8 years old.
Patti Austin had big shoes to fill and her uber confidence helped her stomp right in. Although being quite vocal about not being used to these charts, few have been so privileged, she did a great job. Her naturally sassy approach and sharp wit gave her reparte a touch of spice to lighten up the slightly dull acoustic of the Stern auditorium with its limited number of sweet spots.
This show has taken us on a wonderful journey from crafting what was essentially a ‘highlights’ concert program of Nelson’s Ella Gershwin Songbook project. From pulling the charts out of the archives where they had sat for half a century through the preparation those same arrangements for performance with the full 76-piece orchestra and breathing new life into them through last nights performance where the audience response was electric…
Nelson Riddle Foundation