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Posts Tagged ‘Kelley’s Blues’

“Life is a lot like jazz. It’s best when you improvise.”
George Gershwin

So I was looking for an excuse to show some pictures of the recent multi-media project I worked on that debuted Saturday night and I landed on Gershwin. The concert called “Kelley’s Blues” featured the artwork of Gary Kelley and the music of Duke Ellington and George Gershwin performed by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony (and guest pianist Genadi Zagor)  under the direction of Jason Weinberger.

As a composer Gershwin is perhaps best known for his Rhapsody in Blue, though much of his music has had a long life in Hollywood, beginning with a forgotten film called Delicious in 1931 to his music being used in an episode of The Simpsons in 2010. IMDB has Gershwin’s music being credited (or at least used if not credited) in more than 300 films and TV shows. Among the list are An American in Paris, Porgy and Bess, and Manhattan.

When Rhapsody in Blue was used in The King of Jazz (1930) he was paid $50,000. It’s well-known that at one time in the 1930s that baseball great Babe Ruth made more than President Hoover, but writer Walter Rimler (George Gershwin: An Intimate Portrait) has said that Gershwin made more than both of them combined.  Gershwin’s loan Oscar nomination came in 1938 for the lyrics he wrote (with his brother, Ira) for the song They Can’t take that Away from Me used in the 1937 film Shall We Dance.

Outside of Hollywood he had his first hit in 1919 with the song Swanee, and La, La, Lucille was his first Broadway play. In 1932 he won the Pulitzer Prize for the musical Of Theee I Sing (on collaboration with George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin.) He had quite a run, especally when you consider he was only 38-years-old when he died.

Here are some photos I took of the artwork being created and at the rehearsal last Saturday.

Photos Copyright 2010 Scott W. Smith

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Tonight the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra will perform a concert called “Kelley’s Blue” that I had the opportunity to work on. Part of the concert will be a 40 minute section featuring the music of Duke Ellington’s “Three Black Kings” and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and visuals by artist Gary Kelley.

Whether it’s opportunities like this or writing this blog, I am reminded of the Tom Peter’s quote that helped change my mindset when I moved to Iowa back in ’03–“Sometimes it’s best to go where the hotspots aren’t.”

Keep that in mind wherever find yourself in this world.

Over the last couple decades Kelley’s clients have included New Yorker Magazine, Rolling Stone, Time, Newsweek, CBS Records and the large murals seen at Barnes & Noble Booksellers. In 2007, Kelley was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. My role in this concert came in the shooting and editing of 50 pieces of Kelley’s artwork that will be shown on a large screen for between 1,200 and 1,500 people.

Photographer Chase Jarvis has said something to the effect that right now within 10 feet of you there are 100 great photos that can be taken. I think the wherever you live there are not only stories to be told, but opportunities to use your creativity in ways you ‘ve never dreamed of.

If you have really big dreams about really big mountains that’s great—but keep in mind that mountain climbers start with small climbs. As the saying goes, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” Then build on what you’ve done.

By the way, this won’t be your standard symphony concert tonight as conductor Jason Weinberger ( a Santa Monica native who came to Cedar Falls via Yale & Peabody Conservatory) will also be “incorporating music from William Grant Still and J Dilla (James Yancy), a Grammy-nominated record producer and one of the music industry’s most influential hip-hop artists.”

WCF Courier article on concert by Melody Parker.

Scott W. Smith

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