Recording of August 1983: West Side Story

883rotmwest.250.jpgAndre Previn and His Pals: West Side Story
Andre Previn, piano; Shelly Manne, drums; Red Mitchell, double bass.
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab MFSL 1-095 (LP). Lester Koenig, prod. TT: 38:16

Aaron Copland has called jazz "contemporary chamber music," and this is certainly true of these improvisations by Previn and his friends. I consider this chamber jazz at its best, varying in mood and tempo but never losing interest. The program consists of eight variations on themes from Bernstein's well-known musical, and includes "Maria," "Jet Song," "I Feel Pretty," and "Something's Coming."

This is a vintage recording, originally made in August 1959 for Contenmporary Records and further evidence that the state of the art wasn't all that bad back then, provided that the recording engineers cared about what they were doing. The record is of special interest because it was made before Previn became a classical conductor of note. In fact he was still performing with major orchestras and composing scores for motion pictures. So I suppose this makes this disc something of a collector's item for his fans. I note from the jacket that Previn made several other jazz albums from popular Broadway shows, and it would be nice indeed if Mobile Fidelity could give us re-releases of more of them, as they include Pal Joey, Gigi, Bells Are Ringing, and My Fair Lady.

MFSL's remastering is a total success. There is no jarring high end, imaging is good, and the sound is ripe and lush without being overblown. Any jazz fan or any one who enjoys good music will like this record.—Margaret Graham