West Side Story is based on Romeo and Juliet, set against a contemporary background of warring gangs on New York's West Side. Unlike most musicals, this one deals with a real social problem in terms of tragic theater; yet the production is brilliantly realized in song and in dance with wit and tenderness as well as tense drama. The music by Leonard Bernstein is an integral part of the total conception, its unconventional song structures and harmonic progressions are not the kind which would seem to lend themselves readily to modern jazz treatment. Yet, possibly because of the challenge provided by the Bernstein material, Andre Previn, Shelly Manne and Red Mitchell have improvised on it brilliantly, transforming it into one of their most imaginative show-jazz albums.
This album is not a masterpiece. André Previn was an astonishing polymath (Oscar-winning film composer; conductor of major symphony orchestras; badass pianist), but he was not a jazz innovator. He was an irresistible popularizer and entertainer. His ecstatic versions of eight Leonard Bernstein songs swing like crazy. (Shelly Manne and Red Mitchell, of course, also kick ass.) Previn is even more seductive when he slows down and goes all rapt, like on 'Tonight' and 'Maria.' The sound is by the great Roy DuNann. This recording is available in several formats on several labels. Spring for the JVC XRCD if you can find one.Features:
• Mastered Directly from the Original Master Tapes!
• 1/2 Speed Mastered Original Master Recording Series
• Specially Plated and Pressed on JVC's High Definition Super Vinyl
• Pressed in Japan
• Special Static Free-Dust Free Inner Sleeve
• Limited Edition
Andre Previn, piano
Shelly Manne, drums
Red Mitchell, bass
1. Something's Coming
2. Jet Song
4. I Feel Pretty
5. Gee Officer Krupke!
Recorded August 24 & 25, 1959 at Contemporary's studio in Los Angeles.