Various: West Side Story 1961-2021

Varied compilation of interpretations of West Side Story, whose powerful writing put it on a par with the classics of the 30s


The Bernstein-Sondheim West Side Story came along out of its time. It was the only latter-day musical that ranked with the Gershwin/Berlin classics of the 20s.

This compendium repeats a lot of the tunes, but offers a large variety of interpretations. Since it includes most of the film soundtrack and the stage version, it will make a wonderful gift for any one of the show’s many fans.

The strength of the songs is so robust that one doesn’t tire of repeated versions and, for jazz followers, there are five tracks by the Peterson trio, three by the Brubeck quartet and a solitary one from Morecambe’s “Mr Preview”.

This is all impressive stuff with Desmond’s alto improvisations reaching the heights in the Brubeck group. His delicate and thoughtful variations really add value to the original compositions, and Brubeck must also be praised for his originality.

There is nothing to fault with the various improvisations and, regardless of idiom, I have very much enjoyed the album.

CD1: (1) Prologue; Jet Song; Something’s Coming; Dance At The Gym; Maria; America; Tonight; Gee, Officer Krupke; I Feel Pretty; One Hand, One Heart; Quintet; The Rumble; Cool; A Boy Like That; Somewhere; (2) Reprise; Jet Song; Maria; (3) Tonight; (4) One Hand, One Heart (75.04)
CD2: (4) Jet Song; (2) Somewhere; Something’s Coming; (3) Somewhere; Maria; (5) Gee, Officer Krupke; (6) America; (4) Something’s Coming; Somewhere; Cool; (7) Prologue; Jet Song; Something’s Coming; Dance At The Gym;; Maria; Tonight; Cool ; Tonight 2; Gee, Officer Krupke (69.08)

(1) Original film soundtrack. 9, 10 August 1960.
(2) Oscar Peterson (p); Ray Brown (b); Ed Thigpen (d). 1962.
(3) Paul Desmond (as); Dave Brubeck (p); Gene Wright (b); Joe Morello (d). 1960.
(4) Ludovic de Preissac (p) with septet. 2010.
(5) Andre Prévin (p); Red Mitchell (b); Shelly Manne (d). 1960.
(6) John-Michel Davis (vib, d); Francois Fichu (g); Charly Cohen (d). c. 2001.
(7) Original Broadway theatre cast. 29 August 1957.
Frémeaux FA521