There's nothing like a completely different approach to render familiar music fresh, and as the title to Dick Hyman and Tom Pletcher's album suggests, they had a great idea. If Bix Played Gershwin is governed by the simple idea of arranging 18 Gershwin tunes in the classic jazz style utilized by cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. Pianist Hyman and cornetist Pletcher are joined by a fairly large ensemble including clarinetist Dan Levinson, trombonist David Sager, bass saxophonist Vince Giordano, guitarist-banjo player Bob Leary, and percussionist Ed Metz, Jr.. What makes the idea more than just an exercise is the verve and vibrancy of the performances, all channeled through Hyman's sparkling arrangements. There's an energetic Dixieland take on "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin," and one of the happiest versions of "I Got Rhythm" you're likely to hear. There are two versions of "Embraceable You," and the appearance of a couple rarities, "Kango Kate" and "Yankee Doodle Rhythm." Interestingly, Beiderbecke played a number of Gershwin's pieces while working with Paul Whiteman in the '20s and perhaps, had he lived longer, would've completed a project just like this one. If Bix Played Gershwin is a 's wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ill-fated Beiderbecke's death, and will be a welcome addition to Hyman and Pletcher's catalog.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.