Gershwin, By George

It's the composer at the keyboard on a new, high-tech recording of 12 of his best pieces, originally cut as piano rolls

George Gershwin's early years were the heyday of ragtime and the blues, of barroom and bordello "perfessers" in spats and hats, of Tin Pan Alley song pluggers and sidewalk player pianos, whose invisible hands held passersby enthralled with their fascinatin' rhythms. So young George was only doing what came naturally when, at age 18, he sat down to cut a piano roll of his first published song, a frisky ditty called When You Want 'Em, You Can't Get 'Em, When You've Got 'Em, You Don't Want 'Em.

That was the first of some 130 rolls Gershwin made between 1916 and 1927,...

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