A Gershwin Playground (Enja)

Guy Mintus Trio

Released October 2020

DownBeat Four-and-a-Half-Star Review






Young NYC-based pianist Guy Mintus returns with this third album – A Gershwin Playground (Enja Records) – a playful celebration of the music of George and Ira Gershwin with a distinctive Israeli jazz twist. Here he shares his unique take on the much-covered ‘Summertime’, with his own vocal-led rhythmically adventurous version featuring his trio of bassist Omri Hadani and drummer Yonatan Rosen.
Speaking about the project Mintus says: “After two albums of mainly original music, it felt right to take on the challenge of making a personal artistic statement through a canonic body of work.  George Gershwin’s catalogue was a very natural choice as I have known some of the songs on this album since I was 10 years old.  I am continuously astounded by how relevant, multi-layered and full of possibilities Gershwin’s music remains. For me, the definitive guideline in creating the interpretations on this album has been the lyrics.  

“Bringing these songs into my trio’s singular “playground” while telling the stories conveyed through each song in our own musical language has been a real joy. At times, we took a more poppy “singer ‘songwritery’ approach, at other times throwing in some groovy middle-eastern elements or a meditative ”prayer like“ moments. Yet above all, of swing, playfulness and joie de vivre.”

Mike Flynn (Jazzwise)

Track Listing:

1. Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off 5:51

2. Fascinating Rhythm / I Got Rhythm 10:24

3. The Man I Love 5:25

4. It Ain’t Necessarily So 5:46

5. I Loves You Porgy 6:58

6. They Can’t Take That Away From Me 6:21

7. Someone To Watch Over Me 4:17

8. Rhapsody In Blue 14:59

9. Summertime 6:04

Music by George Gershwin, arranged by Guy Mintus


Guy Mintus: vocals, piano

Omri Hadani: bass

Yonatan Rosen: drums

Recorded January, 2020, at the Jerusalem Music Centre, by Zvika Hirschler

Mixed and Mastered by Uwe Schwidewski

Photography by Ella Barak

Graphic Design: David Winckelmann

Artwork: Guy Mintus

Produced by Guy Mintus and Matthias Winckelmann


When performing standards, one can elicit smiles of recognition by conforming to expectations. It’s easy, if not especially daring. Or you can take chances, challenge yourself to find some new angle on the tune while risking a pratfall. Guy Mintus doesn’t just cross the line, he obliterates it. His bold reimaginings of each track, animated by his brilliant sidekicks, take listeners on a rocket ride to heights where they can see these tunes as if for the first time. Repeated plays reveal a profound adaptability to Gershwin’s writing, repertoire the Israeli pianist said is “relevant, multi-layered and full of possibilities.” On “Summertime,” the trio sprints into the beloved ballad at a burning tempo, cooking up an incongruous blend of funk and Latin ingredients. In his vocal, Mintus follows his own course, with modal, Middle Eastern nuances complementing the melody. From there, they race through a fun house of colors and surprises, with the bandleader creating a unison piano/scat solo that pushes the tune even further. These fireworks ultimately illuminate the spirit of the composition; it’s irreverent and reverent at the same time. The revelations keep coming: the wordless wailing that begins “I Loves You Porgy,” the unexpected straightahead treatment of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” (which showcases Omri Hadani’s bass), and the wild accelerando and crashing finish to “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off.” But “Rhapsody In Blue” lingers. On his own, Mintus plays a fantasia, slipping from written to improvised passages, including a furious fusion of stride and klezmer. Pure and simple, it’s a tour de force.

Bob Doerschuk (DownBeat)