Willie Nelson's 'Summertime' Gershwin Tribute LP Up for Streaming

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com | Feb 22, 2016 11:32 AM EST
Willie Nelson performs on stage during the Imagine: John Lennon 75th Birthday Concert at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on December 5, 2015 in New York City. (Photo : Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Blackbird)

Willie Nelson's next album comes in the form of a tribute, to none other than the creator of the Great American Songbook, Mr. George Gershwin. The album, entitled Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, is poised to drop on February 26 but is currently up for listen on NPR.

It's the season for standards as Nelson's next musical endeavor comes alongside Bob Dylan's Sinatra tribute LP Shadows in the Night. But, Nelson has been down the covers path before, with a 1978 release of Stardust, which is a quintuple platinum selling album but one that also exposed a generational gap in music.

On the Stardust disc, Nelson cover's the George and Ira Gershwin classic "Someone to Watch Over Me," and continues to draw a similar comparison to the old popular tunes of the day with another rendition of "Someone" on Summertime.

Chris Willman wrote up on NPR of Nelson's Summertime disc:

"Nelson does 'put on some speed' in plenty of the new album's tracks, adopting a style that nearly approaches the light-footedness of Western swing, though there's nary a moment you'd mistake for straight country. 'I Got Rhythm' opens with riffs being traded between Nelson's eternal harmonica player, Mickey Raphael, and guest steel-guitar legend Paul Franklin - and it's interesting that Nelson makes freer use of steel when he's venturing toward jazz than he does back in the country wheelhouse. "

And if you take another preview from Summertime at Rolling Stone, which features a live performance of the title track, you can hear similar nuances to Willie's performances that are just, simply, "Willie." Donning his relic acoustic, which sports wear-and-tear in the shape of holes, Nelson proves he can still play, and what he wants to play is Gershwin.

Preview that video below for now and be sure to check out the record on NPR in a First Listen premiere.

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