Jazz at the Musikverein

André Previn

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Jazz at the Musikverein Review

by Richard S. Ginell

Here is an example of crossover marketing '90s style - a classical conductor/jazz pianist signed to the classical Deutsche Grammophon label, whose previous jazz album issued on DG got lost in the shops and whose next disc was prudently shifted over to PolyGram's jazz line, Verve. The occasion was a rare jazz concert in Vienna's legendary, acoustically marvelous symphony hall, the Musikvereinsaal, where Previn -- who normally leads the Vienna Philharmonic there -- enraptured the Viennese with his piano/guitar/bass trio. According to Previn, one member of the Philharmonic was astonished to learn that the music was made on the wing ("You improvised in public?!," he exclaimed). Well, it wasn't that big a deal for Previn and his usual cohorts Mundell Lowe (guitar) and Ray Brown (bass), who turn in an amiable collection of mostly vintage standards that they probably know in their sleep. Previn is as fluid, witty and melodically inventive as ever in his bop-derived, light-fingered manner, with occasional side trips into stride and Brubeck-like chordal perorations, and there is one flippant, blues-based Previn original entitled "Hi Blondie." The lack of a drummer becomes an asset in this golden mellow hall; a drum kit would have upset the acoustical balance. Andre even gets a chance to make a speech to the audience, but alas, it's in German with no translation (wish we could figure out what he was saying that made the Viennese chuckle).

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