Roughly a century ago, six composers were born -- Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Duke Ellington and Richard Rodgers -- and they forever changed the style of popular music. To celebrate their awesome musical accomplishments, pianist Beegie Adair and her jazz trio have released a four-and-a-half-hour Centennial Composers six-CD box set with new renditions of a dozen or more of the best-known tunes by each songwriter.
With a full CD devoted to each composer, this expansive and ambitious box (on the Green Hill Productions label distributed by the Spring Hill Music Group) contains instrumental versions of 75 of the greatest tunes from the first half of the Twentieth Century, plus biographies and extensive song notes. The box set can be purchased on-line at amazon.com or greenhillmusic.com, or by calling 800-972-5900. To find a local retailer who carries the album, consumers can call 800-200-4656.
Most of the Centennial Composers songs have now entered the collective consciousness of the human race. These are melodies that are familiar to all ages. It is easy to predict that many of these songs will last forever. The list of compositions is breath-taking -- Berlin's God Bless America," White Christmas" and Alexander's Ragtime Band;" Carmichael's Stardust," Heart and Soul" and Georgia On My Mind;" Gershwin's Summertime," Our Love Is Here To Stay" and Someone To Watch Over Me;" Kern's Old Man River," The Last Time I Saw Paris" and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes;" Ellington's Sophisticated Lady," In a Sentimental Mood" and It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing);" and Rodgers' The Lady is a Tramp," Where or When" and My Funny Valentine;" among countless others that have entered our musical lexicon as standards."
Even 50-to-75-years after this music was written, it is still heard everywhere," explains Beegie. The tunes are so familiar that we almost take them for granted. The music has been a part of the fabric of people's live -- for so many years. It is simply ingrained into our culture. It's the type of music that is passed down from generation to generation. Right now when I teach a jazz class, this is the music we start with whether we are studying composition or performance. This is the musical background that influenced everything that came in the second half of the century as well as every type of popular music happening today. These classic composers blended what was passed down from the classical music repertoire with traditional folk music to create modern popular, or pop music. Every musician owes these composers a great debt. Music is a continuum, and the thread of these sounds continues every year."
Beegie Adair was uniquely qualified to tackle such a large-scale recording project because she has built a large and loyal fanbase with a series of jazz instrumental albums featuring similar classic material made famous by various singers (The Frank Sinatra Collection which was named Jazz Album of the Year" at the Nashville Music Awards, The Nat King Cole Collection and Love, Elvis containing the romantic Presley repertoire) and other collections of standards (Dream Dancing: Songs of Cole Porter, Sax & Swing also featuring saxophonist Denis Solee, Jazz Piano Christmas and I'll Take Romance with classic love tunes by famous composers).
While most of the material on Centennial Composers was initially written with lyrics (most often by a songwriting partner), this box set focuses on the men who wrote the actual music. Those melodies are interpreted here by a classic acoustic traditional jazz trio (Adair on piano with bassist Roger Spencer and drummer Chris Brown). This gives the music a warm resonance, a high-standard of quality in sound and performance, and a consistant flow throughout. We looked at this project as if we were creating a reference work," Adair states. Besides collecting such purely enjoyable music, we wanted it to stand a