Gershwin’s Piano Prelude 2, played by Buddy Morrow (1964)
More Music by Gershwin
I continue my tribute to the music of George Gershwin by presenting a superb 1964 performance of his Piano Prelude 2 in a magnificent arrangement by John Woehrmann, for trombone virtuoso Buddy Morrow and His Orchestra.
Gershwin originally planned to compose 24 piano preludes, but for various reasons ended up with only three. These were first performed by Gershwin at the piano in 1926, and published in 1927. All three are lovely, but the haunting Second Prelude in C-sharp minor, has a distinctly bluesy, jazz-like quality. All of this musical character was captured and translated into a splendid setting for Buddy Morrow and his band by a young bass trombonist/arranger in the Morrow band in 1963, John Woehrmann. Tragically, before this recording was made in 1964, Woehrmann was killed in an auto crash.
Woehrmann’s arrangement makes creative use of the instruments in a fourteen-piece jazz/dance band, as well as providing Buddy Morrow with a wonderful showcase for his skills as one of the best trombonists to emerge from the swing era. Listen for the shifting instrumental sonorities behind Morrow’s solo trombone.
Buddy Morrow (born Muni Zudekoff, aka Moe Zudekoff; February 8, 1919 – September 27, 2010) was a trombonist who began his professional career in 1936 at age seventeen. He studied briefly at the Institute of Musical Art in Manhattan, predecessor to the Juilliard School of Music. Then he began playing trombone with Sharkey Bonanno’s Sharks Of Rhythm. He moved on to the dance bands of Dick Robertson, Eddie Duchin, then into Artie Shaw’s first band, the one built around a string quartet. In 1939, he joined Paul Whiteman’s orchestra, replacing trombone legend Jack Teagarden, and playing with, among other trombonists, Miff Mole. (See photo below right of Morrow, [then still known as Moe Zudekoff] Whiteman and Mole.) After working with Whiteman, Morrow joined the bands of Vincent Lopez and Richard Himber.
In 1940, Morrow was induced by tenor saxophonist Tony Pastor, whom he had met in Artie Shaw’s band, to join his new band for a time before moving on to the Bob Crosby’s Bob Cats. After that, he joined the U.S. Navy in 1942. (Morrow is shown at left in 1941.)
After military service in the summer of 1945 as Buddy Morrow, he joined Jimmy Dorsey’s band until the end of that year, then had his first fling at bandleading through 1946. After that, he went into radio and recording in Manhattan as a freelancing studio musician. He was selected to lead a band on RCA Victor Records after their long-time star trombonist Tommy Dorsey left that label in 1950. (Morrow is pictured below left with Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey in the early 1950s.) Soon thereafter, he had a hit with “Night Train,” a blues lifted (unbeknownst to Morrow before he recorded it), from Duke Ellington’s “Happy-Go-Lucky Local.” The success of this record was enough to keep Morrow in the bandleading business until he returned to the Manhattan recording studios (and occasionally as a sideman in the Tonight Show band), in the mid-1960s.
Morrow led and toured extensively with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (TD died in 1956) from 1977 through September 24, 2010, when he appeared with the band for the final time. Morrow died in the morning on September 27, 2010. (Morrow is shown below asleep on the band bus around 1980.)
This recording, which was made in 1964 as a transcription for radio broadcast, was digitally remastered by Mike Zirpolo.