Brooklyn 'Jazz Age’ revivalist Giordano to recreate 'Rhapsody in Blue’ concert

Vince Giordano, Midwood resident and leader of the Nighthawks, who specialize in music of the 1920s. Photo by Steve Friedman

Will use original arrangement from 1924

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Brooklyn musician Vince Giordano, “Jazz Age” buff and leader of the Nighthawks 1920s-era revival band, has performed at venues around New York City, including Lincoln Center, for more than 30 years. He also played and acted in the film “The Cotton Club” as well as several Woody Allen movies, and leads the band in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”

Now, he is undertaking what is perhaps his most ambitious project to date: A 90th anniversary performance of the original arrangement of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”  

The Paul Whiteman Orchestra, one of the most popular bands of the 1920s, premiered Gershwin’s classic work at Aeolian Hall in Manhattan on Feb. 12, 1924. Now, Giordano, with an enhanced version of the Nighthawks, will perform it on Feb. 12, 2014, at Town Hall.

The Nighthawks are usually an 11-piece band, but to play the original score by arranger Ferde Grofe, Giordano has added 11 more players, most of them classical musicians who play violin and similar instruments. “We’re doing what Whiteman did – adding good classical musicians to our core group of jazz players,” says Giordano.

Giordano and Gershwin are both “Brooklyn boys.” Gershwin was born in East New York, although his family later moved to Manhattan. Giordano, who grew up in Smithtown, Long Island, moved to Brooklyn in 1979 and currently lives with his family in Midwood.

“Rhapsody in Blue” was one of the first attempts to integrate jazz and classical music. Those who attend the concert will likely be hearing something they’ve never heard before, since the arrangement of “Rhapsody” that is most commonly heard today is a score for full symphony orchestra that dates from the 1940s.

At Town Hall, in addition to “Rhapsody in Blue,” Giordano’s orchestra will also play some 1920s pop songs by Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and Gershwin himself., as well as operetta composer Victor Herbert’s “A Suite of Serenades.”

Interestingly, there’s another Brooklyn connection. The former Aeolian Hall building, on 42nd Street in Manhattan, now houses that SUNY College of Optometry, where many meetings about the fate of Long Island College Hospital have been held.

The concert will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Town Hall, 123 West 43rd St., at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at or at the Town Hall box office.

February 10, 2014 - 9:00am



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