The music of George Gershwin is timeless. From “Rhapsody in Blue” to “Embraceable You,” his compositions are works of art.
Grammy-winning jazz duo Peter and Will Anderson will explore the music of the American composer and icon during a free community concert on Saturday, September 30 at 7:30 pm in Tateuchi Hall.
The Anderson brothers have been drawn to music since age 9 and that love would grow into something more over the years as they have become what many call “virtuosos on clarinet and saxophone.” (New York Times)
“We’ve been playing side by side for almost 25 years. Playing jazz involves improvising, reading musical and non-verbal cues.,” they told CSMA in a previous interview. “We have gotten very good at anticipating what the other one will do next and it makes it fun to play together.”
Gershwin, one of the most striking geniuses of modern music, combined the sounds of jazz and European classical music. His music is some of the most sampled and played throughout the world.
The Anderson brothers will present a fascinating narrative and live performance of Gershwin hits including “Rhapsody in Blue,” “Embraceable You” and more with their six-piece ensemble. See the duo perform some of Gershwin’s work here.
Born Jacob Bruskin Gershowitz to immigrant parents fleeing anti-Semitic persecution in Russia, George Gershwin and his brother Ira would go on to become dominant Broadway songwriters. George’s success would continue when he was asked to write an original work for a modern music concert in 1924. That original work was the masterful Rhapsody in Blue which fused two genres of music, creating a singular work that lives in a world between jazz and classical and has become one of the most performed of all American concert pieces. Before his untimely death at age 38, Gershwin had become an internationally recognized composer.
For Peter and Will, jazz provides a melodic synthesis of harmony and rhythm. Born and raised in Washington D.C., the Andersons moved to New York City to attend The Juilliard School. The twins shared their musical beginnings with CSMA in 2021:
“Both of us started playing the clarinet at age 9 when we were in the fourth grade at a public school in Bethesda, Maryland. A year later we both added the saxophone. We were lucky to have very supportive parents, as well as many great teachers early on in the Washington, DC area including saxophonist Paul Carr and early jazz expert Dave Robinson. We had many performance opportunities and were surrounded by great talented peers in high school.”
The jazz bug bit the Anderson brothers at an early age and they haven’t looked back. It all started when they saw a Chips Ahoy cookie commercial. The music caught them instantly.
“The soundtrack (for the commercial) was Benny Goodman playing “Sing, Sing, Sing.” We were hooked… We were drawn to jazz for its beautiful synthesis of melody, harmony and rhythm. The greatest part of jazz is the sophisticated but basic foundation of the blues. This creates an opportunity for musicians to express themselves freely and uniquely.”
As professional jazz musicians, the Andersons have honed their own unique sound. They have headlined at Carnegie Hall and performed with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Wycliffe Gordon, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Paquito D’Rivera, Wynton Marsalis, and can be heard on the 2014 Grammy-winning soundtrack of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.
Some of their music inspiration includes Charlie Parker, Sidney Bechet, Dexter Gordon, Coleman Hawkins, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie.
Because a good musician knows that it takes time to learn their craft, we asked if there was a music teacher that made an impact on their lives. There is always one that stands out and for them it was saxophonist Joe Temperley.
“He was a fantastic role model and was the epitome of great swing era/bebop saxophone playing,” they said. “Upon his passing, we raised $25,000 to establish the Joe Temperley Juilliard Student Scholarship Fund and tribute album to honor him.”
What advice do the brothers have for aspiring musicians? It’s simple. Work hard and be willing to fail. And more than anything create performance opportunities for yourself.
“Anyone interested in learning to play jazz should focus on the love of the craft, hard work and being under pressure and often failing. Also, always try to play with musicians who are better than you and follow local professional musicians. Look for and create your own performance opportunities–they will not be handed to you!”
By TaLeiza Calloway-Appleton