This is André Previn's best album since his return to jazz at the close ofthe 1980s, and also the most surprising and unpredictable one of his entire jazz life. Rather than play it safe with a conservative trio and a brace of standards, Previn exercises his considerable arranging and compositional skills, lets his curiosity about other idioms roam freely, throws in some Ellington, and does everything with disarming ease and tasty humor. His usual cohorts, Mundell Lowe on guitar and Ray Brown on bass, do form the base of operations, but this time, Previn adds some wonderfully hip little charts for three brass players and teams up with the amateur Antioch Gospel Choir, a local (Bedford Hills, New York) group that Previn took a shine to. Among other treats, the choir inspires Previn to take off on a down-home gospel blues "You Are My All"; it's great to hear him unwind and dig in like this. Indeed, his playing shows greater streaks of wit and a cannier use of space than ever before, and his self-penned title track has a wild theme, almost avant-garde in its erudite looniness. In addition, Warren Vaché (trumpet) and Jim Pugh (trombone) get to contribute several fine solos on their own. What Headphones? proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Andre Previn is not only an unbelievably talented musician, but also tremendous fun to spend some time with.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell