GREG PORÉE: SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW, MOONTRAXX 2011
A very sweet, heartfelt and moving instrumental interpretation by the guitarist and composer Greg Porée, played solo on the ukulele.
Many a noteworthy jazz and pop singer or instrumentalist of international reputation has recorded his or her very own interpretation of the tune “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. The song was originally written in 1938 by Harold Arlen, with lyrics by Yip Harburg for the movie “The Wizard of Oz” and became Judy Garland’s signature tune. During the last seventy decades, it has charted numerous times, been ranked “Song of the Century” and one of the world’s greatest movie songs. One of the most popular recent versions, is by the “Wizard of Iz”, the Hawaiian singer and ukulele player Israel Kamakawiwo’ole who conquered the charts by delivering a very touching and unique version of the song on voice and ukulele.
Like many jazz players, the guitarist and composer Greg Porée has had an interesting history with this tune, having played it on many occasions. But Greg’s skills of interpretation, in playing the golden notes that support the story and creating new imaginative melodies within the melody, make him stand out from the crowd. When the American singer-songwriter Jewel starred in a guest performance on the BBC hit show “Dancing With The Stars” to feature her new album ‘Lullaby’, she explicitly asked for Greg, the lead guitarist of the show to accompany her. A few seasons later, Greg was asked to play the tune on the ukulele for one of the most popular competitors of that season, Kristie Alley. For this on camera TV appearance he was endorsed by Ovation guitars with a brand new ukulele. Strangely enough, he had never possessed a ukulele before. But being virtually capable of picking up any fretted instrument and instantaneously being able to play it, Greg Porée was able to lose himself for days with his “new” found love and soon decided to make some new recordings on the instrument –
the very ukulele which is depicted on the cover of his new single.
Many jazz arrangements of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” are very ambitious and may sometimes lose sight of the true sweetness of the song. This is where Greg Porée has achieved an interpretation which not only mirrors the lullaby character of the song by his choice of instrument but also by his musical interpretation: The ground structure was laid with an arpeggiated approach on the steel-string guitar. But it’s the “voice” of the ukulele that gives the piece a very pure and naturalistic, almost child-like tone. By adding interesting new nuances to the piece in his solo, Greg supports the expression of soaring dreams within the song’s original musical movements. Because, like in the original recording, and in similarly sensitive and moving renditions – whether by Iz or the American vocalist Eva Cassidy – it is a peaceful world, a “land in a lullaby” and of hope that is described in the lyrics and musically (a rainbow is drawn as a result of the octave leap in the first two notes). Greg Porée’s recording of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” is a very sweet, heartfelt and moving instrumental version.
released June 15, 2011
Written by Harold Arlen
Arranged by Greg Porée
Greg Porée on Ukelele and steel-string guitar
Recorded in Pasadena CA, by Nolan Shaheed
Produced by Frances Livings & Greg Porée for Moontraxx Music Productions, 2011