George Gershwin

Definitive Collection

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The musical legacy of George and Ira Gershwin is truly an astounding one. Together they wrote the music for a dozen stage shows and four films beginning with 1924's Lady Be Good (which gave us "Fascinating Rhythm"), and several individual songs from this writing and composing partnership have become undisputed classics in the Great American Songbook. Songs like "They Can't Take That Away from Me," "Summertime," "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," "'S Wonderful," and "Embraceable You" have each been recorded countless times by some of the best musicians and singers of the 20th century, so when this collection of the Gershwin' material from Universal International is bestowed with the title The Definitive Collection, well, it just begs for argument. Are these the best performances of these songs, and therefore the definitive ones? One could argue forever, really. Are these songs definitive, no matter the performer? No debate there. Included are Fred Astaire's sprightly take on "Fascinating Rhythm," Ella Fitzgerald's gorgeous and measured "Nice Work If You Can Get It," Blossom Dearie's "Someone to Watch Over Me," and Helen Merrill's "Summertime," among other gems, and if calling this set "Definitive" is overreaching, it certainly delivers the goods as well as a single disc can. One little beef is that this compilation is attributed to George Gershwin alone on the cover, but a big part of why these songs work so well and remain so timeless are Ira Gershwin's graceful and elegant lyrics. "They can't take that away from me," Ira wrote, and Universal shouldn't either.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:59
2 4:14
3 3:26
feat: Fred Astaire
feat: Diane Schuur
6 3:29
7 4:31
feat: Carmen McRae
9 4:16
10 2:29
feat: Betty Carter
feat: Joe Williams
feat: Shirley Horn
14 3:36
15 3:04
16 2:53
17 6:03
18 2:48
19 4:04
blue highlight denotes track pick