Sunday, October 17, 2004

DeGreg scales up to symphony

By Janelle Gelfand
Enquirer staff writer

George Gershwin brought jazz into the concert hall with his "Rhapsody in Blue," a "jazz concerto" commissioned by bandleader Paul Whiteman in 1924.

On Wednesday, Cincinnati jazz pianist Phil DeGreg, a regular at the Blue Wisp, will come into the concert hall for his first performance of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

What: CCM Wind Symphony, Rodney Winther, conductor; Phil DeGreg, piano
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Corbett Auditorium, University of Cincinnati
Admission: Free. 556-4183 or
DeGreg, professor of jazz studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, spoke about his debut with the CCM Wind Symphony, under the baton of Rodney Winther.

Question: How is this concert different from playing in your usual trio?

Answer: It's real challenging for me. I mean, being a jazz improviser is a completely different mind-set. I think what (Winther) was thinking was that I'd bring a different interpretation to it. There are internal syncopations in the music that I just hear in a particular way.

Q: Do you memorize easily?

A: If I'm doing a jazz piano trio or an arrangement with a group, I try to have everything memorized. I have to say that this music is so logical, that memorization isn't the most difficult part of it.

Q: What about "Rhapsody in Blue" do you love?

A: I love the harmony. And I just like the logic of it, and the melodies too. It's got great melodies. I've played some Claude Bolling pieces, and they're OK. But there's a certain thing about Gershwin that's a lot deeper.

Q: Are you classically trained?

A: I did take lessons when I was a kid, but I didn't have a conservatory education. When I was in college (Yale University) I majored in psychology. (Later) I moved to Kansas City, and studied classical piano and jazz piano simultaneously and began to work locally.

Q: Whom do you admire among past jazz pianists?

A: Bud Powell. People told me when I first began to play jazz in a serious way that my playing reminded them of Bill Evans.

Q: What's your latest recording project?

A: I have a brand new recording (I made) in Brazil with a bunch of Brazilian jazz musicians. There are several (Antonio Carlos) Jobim tunes. I've got a couple of original tunes on it, and there are jazz standards that the Brazilian guys wanted to record.


Art*o*mat open for business
Machines to vend teens' art
Opera gets spiritual in 'Oh Freedom!'
'Elegies' celebrates life's 'infinite joy'
Local media
New this week
DeGreg scales up to symphony
Top 5 live
'Drawing' lets viewer interpret forms
Frampton off to England ... after he votes
New Voice Theater ready to be heard

Sunset on South Beach: The Yearlings
Dinner of Champions: MS Society
Women on the Move: Dress for Success

Fashion flashes to the '50s
The Insatiable Shopper
Style Notes
Linda Love

Take it easy on the Indiana Turnpike
Travel Adams County, quilt to quilt