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André Previn plays My Fair Lady and a dozen great standards

André Previn (pno) with Shelley Manne and his friends, and the André Previn Trio and Quartet
rec. 1946-56

LIVING ERA CD AJA 5656 [75:42]



My Fair Lady

Get Me To The Church On Time
On The Street Where You Live
I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face
Wouldn't It Be Loverly?
Ascot Gavotte
Show Me
With A Little Bit Of Luck
I Could Have Danced All Night
I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good
Take The 'A' Train
This Can't Be Love
Should I?
Just One Of Those Things
September In The Rain
Lullaby Of Broadway
Black And Blue
I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling
Honeysuckle Rose
Who's Sorry Now?


Short-sleeved shirt and cigarette burning; eyes shut. That’s the cover picture of Previn caught for the cameras in "American Beauty" colour. And the kernel of the disc is My Fair Lady played by the group known as Shelley Manne and his Friends – who were Previn and bassist Leroy Vinnegar. It was recorded for Contemporary in August 1956 and shows the quick witted trio in fine light. Previn’s tone is warm and supple, and Manne and Vinnegar form a formidable partnership. They race away at the end of On The Street Where You Live and find some Gospel for the intro of Wouldn't It Be Loverly? where Previn’s debt to Erroll Garner is probably at its most marked. Show Me is a splendid vehicle for the trio as Previn lashes into Tatumesque descending treble runs and Teddy Wilson touches to embellish the melody, adding for good measure light block chording. They turn With A Little Bit Of Luck into a reflective Nocturne and pile on maximal contrast with the concluding I Could Have Danced All Night which steams ahead.

The remainder of the programme consists of standards. The Ellington brace sees Irving Ashby and Red Callender joining Previn who, on Take The 'A' Train, plays lightly swinging stride in tribute to its composer. Elsewhere we find Previn with a quartet for some show tunes. As before the playing is catchy, clever and entirely convincing – well, except perhaps for some Latin-American deconstructionist work on a Harry Warren tune. Apart from that however Previn proves to have impeccable chops. He joins up with Manne once more and Buddy Clark for a 1953 session for Tops and ends with a quartet and strings Who's Sorry Now? In answer to that question the arranger should be – it makes for a syrupy end to an otherwise bracing and enjoyable programme.

Jonathan Woolf



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