Trevor Nunn's acclaimed 1993 production of Dubose Heyward and Ira Gershwin's classic fable of the tragic love affair between crippled Porgy (Willard White) and beautiful but troubled Bess (Cynthia Haymon) was widely acclaimed as one of the definitive stagings of one of America's best-known operas. Nunn restaged his production for a television adaptation commissioned by the BBC, and this video captures the impressive results. Gregg Baker and Damon Evans highlight the supporting cast, and the London Philharmonic (under the direction of Simon Rattle) provide the musical accompaniment.
"Tomes are available annotating the importance of this recording. The musical and social impact of Miles Davis, his collaborative efforts with Gil Evans, and in particular their reinvention of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess are indeed profound. However, the most efficient method of extricating the rhetoric and opining is to experience the recording…." ~AMG
In general, Joe Henderson's take on "Porgy & Bess" meets the high standards of his latter-day records for Verve. Working with arranger Bob Belden and a wonderful combo – including guitarist John Scofield, pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Dave Holland, drummer Jack DeJohnette, trombonist Conrad Herwig and vibraphonist Stefon Harris – Henderson brings Gershwin's music to life with subtle beauty and grace. Furthermore, he demonstrates his uniqueness – Henderson's "Porgy & Bess" may share the same source as Miles Davis' legendary "Porgy & Bess", yet it has an original sound, relying less on orchestration than that classic. While this disc is not flawless – instead of enhancing the music, guest spots from vocalists Chaka Khan and Sting actually stop the momentum, calling attention to themselves – it nevertheless is another valuable addition to Henderson's catalog.