When: Tue., Jan. 6, 7 p.m. 2015
TUESDAY, JAN. 6, RALEIGH
QUAIL RIDGE BOOKS & MUSIC—Many of my favorite moments in music are ones of focused transition: little pinholes the song squeezes into as one thing, comes out as something else. They occur in Smashing Pumpkins' "X.Y.U." (at the 4:18 mark), Eluvium's "Prelude for Time Feelers" (2:31) and Philip Glass' "Mad Rush" (10:01), among countless others.
But if I had to pick one, it would probably be Gershwin's supreme head-fake at the start of "Rhapsody in Blue," the Jazz Age sensation Woody Allen forever pinned to the Manhattan skyline in 1979. A trilling clarinet, entering decorously but quickly turning saucy, suddenly erupts in a smeared neon glissando, rocketing up for octaves and peaking in the most sultry, brazen, consummately American wail. It's the whole saga of a young country's music breaking free from old-world traditions, compressed into about 10 seconds.
As the North Carolina Symphony prepares to perform "Rhapsody" Jan. 810, guest conductor Edwin Outwater visits Quail Ridge Books to talk about Gershwin as well as the contemporary composers on the program. Outwater is likely to discuss the premiere of "Rhapsody" as part of a rather pedantic 1924 concert to foster public understanding of symphonic, operatic and this newfangled jazz music. Picture a young Broadway songwriter uncorking that mad cadenza in such a staid environment, as if insisting that jazz is an incandescent feeling, not only a set of strict etudes. 7 p.m., free, 3522 Wade Ave., 919-828-1588, www.quailridgebooks.com. —Brian Howe