André Previn And His Pals: West Side Story

While extremely fluent, the trio's Bernstein treatment didn't have the novelty value of its My Fair Lady and wanted musical inspiration

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This was the last in a series of albums from André Previn and Shelly Manne featuring music from popular stage shows. They began with My Fair Lady in 1956. L’il Abner and Pal Joey were next in 1957 followed by Gigi and Bells Are Ringing in 1958. Sometimes Previn was the headliner and sometimes it was Manne. The bass was always in the capable hands of either Red Mitchell or Leroy Vinnegar.

My Fair Lady had been a novelty because it was the first time a jazz group had recorded an entire album devoted to material from a Broadway show. West Side Story was yet another huge commercial hit – with Leonard Bernstein’s music, Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics and Jerome Robbins’ choreography it could hardly have been anything else.

By 1960, when this LP was recorded, the concept seems to have lost some of its pristine charm. The hugely talented Previn was a technically fluent jazz pianist without any of the blues inflections of, for instance, a Hampton Hawes or Horace Silver. His swift articulation on numbers like Something’s Coming, I Feel Pretty and America have much of the panache of an Oscar Peterson, but the trio’s performance of these memorable themes should have resulted in something far more significant.

Discography
Something’s Coming; Jet Song; Tonight; I Feel Pretty; Gee Officer Krupke; Cool, Maria; America (38.08)
Previn (p); Red Mitchell (b); Shelly Manne (d). Los Angeles, 24, 25 August 1959.
Craft / Contemporary Records CR00390