This is a departure from my film and television composing: I’m leading a four-piece jazz combo onstage in this production of “Words By: Ira Gershwin and the Great American Songbook.” It’s a review of music with Ira’s lyrics, offset with insightful anecdotes about his life and work. He, with his brother George and other composers and lyricists, invented what we now consider “the standards”. It’s a great way to hear this music anew. The two singers (a “chanteuse” and a “crooner”) are amazing and the actor portraying Ira delights with his nuanced portrayal of a man who found his voice penning the words to songs that have become part of the American tapestry.
And the set is a magnificent work of art designed by Anita Stewart. One side of the stage is a minimalist living room, but behind it is an enormous steel-and-fabric structure consisting of irregular shapes. They alternately serve as panels for reflected light and projections screens for the many photos of Ira’s associates. It’s really, really cool.
It’s been fun for me to work with the singers, Director David Ellenstein, and a band of Portland’s finest jazz musicians. It’s really different from scoring to picture and composing library tracks, that’s for sure. Where media scoring keeps me in relative isolation, I’ve been venturing out of the studio every day, interacting with many live humans, face-to-face. Like, in person even!
More info about the show here