Different Kind of Blues

Itzhak Perlman / André Previn

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Different Kind of Blues Review

by Richard S. Ginell

This looked like a debacle in the making on first glance -- Andre Previn, out of jazz for nearly two decades as of this session, indulging classical violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, who had never played jazz before in his life -- but the two classical partners actually made a really charming album the first time around. Of course, Perlman had a lot of expert help as he waded into the jazz pool, for Previn wrote out all of the tunes and solos for him and populated the rhythm section with can't-miss stalwarts Shelly Manne on drums, Red Mitchell on bass, and Jim Hall on guitar. That wouldn't guarantee a great record all by itself (see the It's a Breeze review) but in this case, the results are swinging, musical, lyrical and inordinately entertaining. Like the proverbial bicyclist who took a long sabbatical but never forgot how to ride, Previn still had plenty of keyboard invention in his fingers, and his tunes are consistently witty. The catchiest tune of the lot also has the funniest title, "Who Reads Reviews" -- aimed no doubt at the anticipated pack of jackals who were expected to eat this album for breakfast. But Perlman gives an attractive account of himself, not quite swinging but creating an alluring illusion of jazz feeling; in the ballads, he sounds as if he had been definitely listening to a lot of Stephane Grappelli. A historical note: this record, now on CD, actually anticipated the rash of "crossover" albums by classical artists that didn't take hold until late in the 1980s. And it remains more enjoyable than the vast majority of its successors.

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