Music: Setting the Standards

George Gershwin not only was two steps ahead of everyone else, but pulled his rivals along too

Fashions come and go in pop and classical music alike, but never has the same idea hit both ends of the street at the same time the way jazz did in the first quarter of this century. Unlike such other seismic events as rock 'n' roll (downtown) and atonality (up), jazz contained a bit of everything: the tingle and immediacy of pop but also the sophisticated harmonies of classical and the authenticity and rootedness of folk.

So whatever music you wrote, the question was, "What do we do with this thing called jazz?" It's generally agreed by now that George Gershwin,...

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