Live at the Jazz Standard

David Finck / André Previn

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Live at the Jazz Standard Review

by Jonathan Widran

Andre Previn is so well-regarded in the 20th century as a classical composer and conductor that it's easy to forget his early days in jazz, when he played with such artists as Billie Holliday, Benny Goodman, Shelly Manne, Dizzy Gillespie, and Ella Fitzgerald. He was also active as a writer and arranger for Count Basie, Woody Herman, and Goodman. He's been making jazz albums for half a century, but has only on occasion released a true live date -- which makes this spirited duet recording with bassist David Finck such a treat. Previn draws from a wide range of classic tunes and throws in a few new compositions. He gives Gerry Mulligan's "Westwood Walk" an air of strutting confidence, an attitude he carries over to his own highly percussive piece "Hi Blondie." "My Funny Valentine" has been done perhaps a million times, but Previn and Finck bring out a quiet elegance that makes it sound as charming and fresh as ever. Seems like they're pretty intent on keeping the improvisations and energetic runs at the core because the minute they've lulled listeners into romantic complacency, they spruce up Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love" into what seems like a potent relay race. Same pattern occurs later when Previn follows the eloquent "Bye Bye Sky" (written by his teenage son Lukas) with the playful and spry "Batter Up." There are also classics by Billy Strayhorn ("Chelsea Bridge") and Duke Ellington ("Come Sunday"), and what would a jazz album be without a little Gershwin. The set closes with exciting renditions of "Oh, Lady Be Good" and "I Got Rhythm."

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