Greg Poppleton

27 February Phantom Dancer - Non-stop mix of swing & jazz from live 1920s-60s radio LISTEN

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13 February 2024

(Until 13 February)

Rhapsody in Blue on 1930s Radio – 100th Anniversary | Phantom Dancer

Greg Poppleton's Phantom Dancer swing jazz radio show

Rhapsody in Blue is a 1924 musical composition written by George Gershwin for solo piano and jazz band. It premiered at Aeolian Hall NYC on 12 February 1924, 100 years and one day ago today, and for that reason its your Phantom Dancer feature this week. Commissioned by bandleader Paul Whiteman, the famous opening clarinet glissando has become as instantly recognizable to concert audiences as the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

The Phantom Dancer is your weekly non-stop mix of swing and jazz from live 1920s-60s radio and TV every week on Radio 2SER 107.3 Sydney Tuesdays 12 noon – 2pm and Saturdays 5 – 5:56pm.

LISTEN to this week’s Phantom Dancer mix (online after 2pm AEST, Tuesday 13 February) and weeks of Phantom Dancer mixes online at, at https://2ser.com/phantom-dancer/

RHAPSODY

Following the success of an experimental classical-jazz concert held with Canadian singer Éva Gauthier in New York City on November 1, 1923, bandleader Paul Whiteman decided to attempt a more ambitious feat.

He asked composer George Gershwin to write a concerto-like piece for an all-jazz concert in honour of Lincoln’s Birthday to be given at Aeolian Hall.

Whiteman became fixated upon performing such an extended composition by Gershwin after he collaborated with him in The Scandals of 1922.

He had been especially impressed by Gershwin’s one-act “jazz opera” Blue Monday.

Gershwin initially declined Whiteman’s request on the grounds that he would have insufficient time to compose the work and there would likely be a need to revise the score.

Soon after, on the evening of January 3, George Gershwin and lyricist Buddy DeSylva played a game of billiards at the Ambassador Billiard Parlor at Broadway and 52nd Street in Manhattan.

George’s brother, Ira Gershwin, interrupted their billiard game to read aloud the January 4 edition of the New-York Tribune. An unsigned Tribune article entitled “What Is American Music?” about an upcoming Whiteman concert had caught Ira’s attention. The article falsely declared that George Gershwin had begun “work on a jazz concerto” for Whiteman’s concert.

The news announcement puzzled Gershwin as he had politely declined to compose any such work for Whiteman. In a telephone conversation with Whiteman the next morning, Whiteman informed Gershwin that Whiteman’s arch rival Vincent Lopez planned to steal the idea of his experimental concert and there was no time to lose. Whiteman thus finally persuaded Gershwin to compose the piece.

IN

With only five weeks until the premiere, Gershwin hurriedly set about composing. He later claimed that, while on a train journey to Boston, the thematic seeds for Rhapsody in Blue began to germinate in his mind.He told biographer Isaac Goldberg in 1931:

It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang, that is so often so stimulating to a composer…. I frequently hear music in the very heart of the noise. And there I suddenly heard—and even saw on paper—the complete construction of the rhapsody, from beginning to end. No new themes came to me, but I worked on the thematic material already in my mind and tried to conceive the composition as a whole. I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our metropolitan madness. By the time I reached Boston I had a definite plot of the piece, as distinguished from its actual substance.

Gershwin began composing on January 7 as dated on the original manuscript for two pianos. He entitled the piece as American Rhapsody during its composition.

Ira Gershwin suggested the revised title of Rhapsody in Blue after his visit to a gallery exhibition of James McNeill Whistler paintings, which had titles such as Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket and Arrangement in Grey and Black.

BLUE

After a few weeks, Gershwin finished his composition and passed the score, titled A Rhapsody in Blue, to Ferde Grofé, Whiteman’s arranger. Grofé finished orchestrating the piece on February 4, eight days before the premiere.

Rhapsody in Blue premiered during a snowy Tuesday afternoon on February 12, 1924, at Aeolian Hall, Manhattan.

Billed as “An Experiment in Modern Music,” the much-anticipated concert held by Paul Whiteman and his Palais Royal Orchestra drew a packed audience.

The excited audience consisted of “vaudevillians, concert managers come to have a look at the novelty, Tin Pan Alleyites, composers, symphony and opera stars, flappers, cake-eaters, all mixed up higgledy-piggledy.”

Many influential figures of the era were present, including Carl Van Vechten, Marguerite d’Alvarez, Victor Herbert, Walter Damrosch, Igor Stravinsky, Fritz Kreisler, Leopold Stokowski, John Philip Sousa, and Willie “the Lion” Smith.

In a pre-concert lecture, Whiteman’s manager Hugh C. Ernst proclaimed the purpose of the concert to be “purely educational”.

Whiteman had selected the music to exemplify the “melodies, harmony and rhythms which agitate the throbbing emotional resources of this young restless age.”

The concert’s lengthy program listed 26 separate musical movements, divided into 2 parts and 11 sections, bearing titles such as “True Form Of Jazz” and “Contrast—Legitimate Scoring vs. Jazzing.”

The program’s schedule featured Gershwin’s rhapsody as merely the penultimate piece which preceded Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1.

Many of the early numbers in the program underwhelmed the audience, and the ventilation system in the concert hall malfunctioned.

Some audience members had departed the venue by the time Gershwin made his inconspicuous entrance for the rhapsody. The audience purportedly were irritable, impatient, and restless until the haunting clarinet glissando played the opening notes of Rhapsody in Blue. The distinctive glissando had been created quite by happenstance during rehearsals:

“As a joke on Gershwin…. [Ross] Gorman [Whiteman’s virtuoso clarinetist] played the opening measure with a noticeable glissando, ‘stretching’ the notes out and adding what he considered a jazzy, humorous touch to the passage. Reacting favorably to Gorman’s whimsy, Gershwin asked him to perform the opening measure that way…. and to add as much of a ‘wail’ as possible.”

Whiteman’s orchestra performed the rhapsody with “twenty-three musicians in the ensemble” and George Gershwin on piano.

In characteristic style, Gershwin chose to partially improvise his piano solo.

The orchestra anxiously waited for Gershwin’s nod which signaled the end of his piano solo and the cue for the ensemble to resume playing.As Gershwin did not write the solo piano section until after the concert, it remains unknown exactly how the original rhapsody sounded at the premiere on 12 February 1924

13 February PLAY LIST

Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney
LISTEN ONLINE
Community Radio Network Show CRN #640

107.3 2SER Tuesday 6 February 2024
12:04 – 2:00pm (+11 hours GMT)
National Program
5UV Adelaide Monday 2:30 – 3:30am
5GTR Mt Gambier Monday 2:30 – 3:30am
3MBR Murrayville Monday 3 – 4am
4NAG Keppel FM Monday 3 – 4am
2MIA Griffith Monday 3 – 4am
2BAR Edge FM Bega Monday 3 – 4am
2BRW Braidwood Monday 3 – 4am
2YYY Young Monday 3 – 4am
7RPH Hobart Monday 3 – 4pm
3VKV Alpine Radio Monday 6 – 7pm
7MID Oatlands Monday 3am – 4 and 6 -7pm
2MCE Bathurst Wednesday 9 – 10am
1ART ArtsoundFM Canberra Friday 10 – 11am
and Sunday 11pm
Reading Radio (QLD) Friday 1am – 2
2RRR Ryde Friday 11am – 12
2ARM Armidale Friday 12 – 1pm
5LCM Lofty FM Adelaide Friday 1 – 2pm
6GME Radio Goolarri Broome Saturday 4am – 5am
Denmark FM (West Australia) Saturday 10 – 11am
Repeat: Wednesdays 10 – 11pm
7LTN Launceston Sunday 5 – 6am
3MGB Mallacoota Sunday 5 – 6am
3BBR West Gippsland Sunday 5 – 6pm
2SEA Sapphire Coast Eden Sunday 9 – 10pm

Set 1
Jan Savitt
Theme + Lullaby of Broadway
Jan Savitt Music for Moderns Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Palladium Ballroom
Hollywood
AFRS Re-broadcast
20 Sep 1945
Sentimental Journey
Jan Savitt Music for Moderns Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Palladium Ballroom
Hollywood
AFRS Re-broadcast
20 Sep 1945
And There You Are
Jan Savitt Music for Moderns Orchestra (voc) Joanne Ryan
‘One Night Stand’
Palladium Ballroom
Hollywood
AFRS Re-broadcast
20 Sep 1945
You’re Driving Me CrazyJan Savitt Music for Moderns Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Palladium Ballroom
Hollywood
AFRS Re-broadcast
20 Sep 1945
Set 2
Trad Jazz
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans (theme) + Georgia Brown
Muggsy Spanier
‘This is Jazz’
WOR Mutual NYC
5 Apr 1947
CA Good Man’s Hard to Find
George Brunies
‘This is Jazz’
WOR Mutual NYC
5 Apr 1947
September in the Rain
Albert Nicholas

‘This is Jazz’
WOR Mutual NYC
5 Apr 1947
Lonesome Road
Baby Dodds

‘This is Jazz’
WOR Mutual NYC
5 Apr 1947
Set 3
Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue
Paul Whiteman Orchestra
‘Everybody’s Music’
WABC CBS NYC
10 Jun 1938
Rhapsody in Blue
Rudy Vallee and his Connecticut Yankees (piano) George Gershwin
Fleischmann Yeast Hour
WEAF NBC Red NYC
1934
Rhapsody in Blue
Jack Teagarden Orchestra
‘Spotlight Bands’
Joplin Missouri
Mutual Network
18 Mar 1946
Second Rhapsody
Paul Whiteman Orchestra
‘Everybody’s Music’
WABC CBS NYC
10 Jun 1938
Set 4
Dance Band Piano
Medley: Tea for Two + Oh, Marie!
Frankie Carle Orchestra
‘Saturday Dance Date’
Marine Dining Room
Edgewater Beach Hotel
WMAQ NBC Chicago
12 Aug 1950
Dream a Little Dream of Me
Frankie Carle Orchestra (voc) Alan Sims

‘Saturday Dance Date’
Marine Dining Room
Edgewater Beach Hotel
WMAQ NBC Chicago
12 Aug 1950
I Love the Guy
Frankie Carle Orchestra (voc) Terri Stevens and Alan Sims

‘Saturday Dance Date’
Marine Dining Room
Edgewater Beach Hotel
WMAQ NBC Chicago
12 Aug 1950
Josephine + Sunrise Serenade (theme)
Frankie Carle Orchestra

‘Saturday Dance Date’
Marine Dining Room
Edgewater Beach Hotel
WMAQ NBC Chicago
12 Aug 1950
Set 5
Zhou Xuan 1944-46
Ye Shanghai
Zhou Xuan
Comm Rec
Hong Kong
1946
The Blossom Youth
Zhou Xuan
Comm Rec
Hong Kong
1944
Stop Singing
Zhou Xuan
Comm Rec
Hong Kong
1946
Set 6
1940s Jazz Radio
Theme + I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo
Joe Marsala Orchestra (voc) Al Jennings
Log Cabin
Armonk NY
WEAF NBC NYC
23 Oct 1942.
Lullaby of the Rain
Joe Marsala Orchestra (harp) Adele Girard
Log Cabin
Armonk NY
WEAF NBC NYC
23 Oct 1942.
In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree
Duke Ellington Orchestra
‘Date with the Duke’
Regal Theatre
WENR ABC Chicago
26 May 1945
Frankie and Johnny
Duke Ellington Orchestra
‘Date with the Duke’
Regal Theatre
WENR ABC Chicago
26 May 1945
Set 7
1930s Dance Bands
Hot Lips (theme) + Jada
Henry Busse Orchestra
Radio Transcription
1935
Solitude
Henry Busse Orchestra
Radio Transcription
1935
Medley: On the Alamo / My Ideal / I’ll Get Bay
Anson Weekes Orchestra
Radio Transcription
1932
Egyptian Shimmy
Anson Weekes Orchestra
Radio Transcription
1932
Set 8
Modern Jazz
O Go Mo
Charlie Ventura
‘Symphony Sid Show’
Royal Roost
WMCA NYC
1949
Serenade in VoutSlim Gaillard
‘Symphony Sid Show’
Birdland WJZ ABC NYC
29 Sep 1951
How High the Moon
Charlie Ventura
‘Symphony Sid Show’
Royal Roost
WMCA NYC
1949
All Gigs
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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