Picks and Pans Review: The Glory of Gershwin

updated 10/10/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/10/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Larry Adler and Various Artists

Harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler first played "Rhapsody in Blue" at a 1934 party with none other than the song's writer, George Gershwin. Sixty years later, Adler is remembering his friend—and celebrating his own 80th birthday—by putting together an album on which he accompanies today's pop music royalty as they croon Gershwin's classics. To be sure his dream became reality, he enlisted the aid of world-class producer George Martin, and together they have created The Glory of Gershwin, a convincing homage to the great composer.

In updating Gershwin's repertoire, the strongest singers—like Oleta Adams, Kate Bush and Elton John—fare best. Others simply struggle: Carly Simon adds nothing new to "I've Got a Crush on You," and jazz musician Courtney Pine contributes a wooden "Summertime" instrumental. Throughout, Adler's mouth organ enhances the performances. It's jumpy and playful, backing Robert Palmer on "I Got Rhythm" and Sting on "Nice Work If You Can Get It," and thanks to Adler's loose, versatile style, always hip enough to charm Gershwin lovers and punk-obsessed twentysomethings alike. (Mercury)

From Our Partners