Nutmegging This Up

Hunting vintage jazz vinyl records in the Nutmeg State

Andre Previn and His Pals – Modern Jazz Performances of Songs from Pal Joey (1957)

ImageAndre Previn, piano

with Red Mitchell (b) and Shelly Manne (d)Image

Mono deep groove yellow labels, D2 matrix, first pressing?


Andre Previn and His Pals – Bewitched (side 1 track 3) (through the headphone jack on my receiver, probably a little too quiet)

Andre Previn and His Pals – Bewitched (audio straight from my preamp, volume all the way up)

(a little noisy unfortunately…and the unsteadiness of pitch my Technics SL-1700 suffers from seems to be a little more obvious with slow piano stuff.  I happened to use Y cables this time around to condense and then spilt the two channels, trying to make the play back a bit cleaner and take some bite off that high end…LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AND LET ME KNOW WHICH VERSION SOUNDS BETTER)

Andre Previn and His Pals – Take Him (side 1 track 4)

Andre Previn and His Pals – Take Him (audio straight from my preamp, volume all the way up)

On a dull snowy day here in the Nutmeg state, I found myself home early from work trying to photograph the label of one of my first three original Contemporary Records LPs.  As you can tell, the weather made it difficult to get that trademark shade of yellow.  I picked them up – two monos and a stereo – somewhat recently at Replay Records in Hamden, CT.  They’re a little noisy and unfortunately they’re not the big blockbuster titles that would be put out on this label.  I had been itching to get my hands a Contemporary LP, and this time of year, the breezy West Cost vibe is most welcome in my apartment.

Rather than pulling in Sonny Rollins’ Way Out West or Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section, I found three LPs of “modern jazz performances” from musicals.  Apparently the Shelly Manne/Andre Previn/Leroy Vinegar take on My Fair Lady actually ended up being a bit of a hit record, with My Pal Joey and countless others following shortly afterward.  The opening “I Could Write a Book” became one of Richard Rogers’ most well known jazz standards, but if you go into an “interpretations” LP like this expecting a lot of blockbusters, you’re likely to get burned.

I try to put myself in the shoes of the musicians when I hear music like this – they’ve got a handful of tunes from one musical and they have to make them sound somewhat less anonymous than they probably would be if handled by a typical jazz combo – head, solos, head.  That being said, these arrangements aren’t ground breaking, but they make for exciting piano trio music that is several notches above cocktail hour fare.  Previn in particular probably doesn’t excite most listeners, but there’s something about his crystal clear technique I gravitate towards.  He manages to sound particularly spontaneous without sounding like he’s mindlessly rattling off lines.  If nothing else, this LP expands the breadth of my jazz collection while making that itch for more Contemporary LPs a little more persistent.


7 comments on “Andre Previn and His Pals – Modern Jazz Performances of Songs from Pal Joey (1957)

  1. Joe L.
    January 29, 2013

    Believe it or not, the “My Fair Lady” record sounds dynamite on a good system. It’s a purebred Contemporary, and jumps out of the speakers. It’s obviously not as interesting as an Art Pepper, but it’s still a bit of a sleeper (even for a hit record).

    • pgiampi1
      January 29, 2013

      That was one of the other two Contemporarys I picked up, though I got the deep groove stereo pressing (not Stereo Records) of that one. I think it’s a nice record too. The third one I picked up is Lil’ Abner in mono…I mostly picked it up for that hilarious cover!

      • Joe L
        January 30, 2013

        That cover is a classic.

  2. Joe L
    January 30, 2013

    Also, if you can find one for a reasonable price, pick up Art Pepper Plus Eleven. Holy s$@%, what a record! My best Contemporary pressing by a wide mile.

    • pgiampi1
      January 30, 2013

      Contemporary has proven, in my handful of years worth of experience hunting for records and in the short time I’ve specifically sought out original pressings, to be amongst the hardest labels to find. Some of these records are legendary, but as I’ve been collecting jazz more earnestly, I’ve become aware of some of the lesser known gems on the label. Perhaps some of those LPs have stared me in the face a few times and I haven’t known any better to snatch them up, even with their iconic cover photos.

      As I said in the post, I liked the price on the three LPs I found and mostly purchased them to expand my collection, but I truly do enjoy the creativity that’s flowing in these sessions. Nothing transcendent but it doesn’t feel like gimmicky cheese either. Would I pick up any more of them? Not sure, but I definitely would hope to find some of Andre Previn’s solo stuff as well as the Double Play LP.

      • Joe L.
        January 30, 2013

        Agree, finding Contemporary pressings has been random for me. I see digital clones somewhat regularly, especially of the “Manne and His Men at the Blackhawk” series (suspiciously nice covers, handwritten matrix info, and very flat and dull sound), but originals are hit-and-miss. Which makes them that much more fun to find. With patience, I expect you will find some Previns; I see them now and again, and have bought at least one nice copy from a bargain bin (Gigi, I think). I’m always on the lookout for Phineas Newborn – A World of Piano; the day I find one will be a happy record-hunting day!

  3. pgiampi1
    January 30, 2013

    For Joe or anyone else out there who ends up listening to the audio, let me know if you find it to be a little subdued. I think I either recorded too soft, so you really have to turn it up to hear how crystal clear this recording ca be, or using the Y cables brought things down a notch, or maybe both?

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