THE FIRST SOLO PIANO ALBUM FROM THE LEGENDARY ANDRÉ PREVIN IN OVER A DECADE André Previn may well be the most widely-accomplished musical renaissance man of his time or any other: no other musician or composer has had a comparable career and worked in so many diverse areas--not even the late Leonard Bernstein. Only André Previn has found enduring success as a classical conductor, a jazz pianist, a hit songwriter, a composer of scores for films and musical comedies, and, more recently, even of operas. He is also releasing a new jazz album, Alone (his first since 2001's Live At The Jazz Standard), and his first album of solo piano in over a decade. Mr. Previn stresses that he has never "shuttled back and forth" between the worlds of jazz and classical music; when he made the commitment to the classical tradition in the mid-`60s, it was a permanent, full-time one. However, he has taken the occasional jazz vacation over the last four decades, much of the delight of connoisseurs of jazz.
From the start of his intermittent side career as a jazz pianist, esteemed conductor and composer Andre Previn has shown more feeling for the form than most classical artists who cross over. Going beyond a recreational involvement in improvised music, he has deepened his playing since skimming stylistic surfaces on his bestselling My Fair Lady album of nearly 50 years ago. Now 78, he gives us what may be his most satisfying jazz recording in Alone: Ballads for Solo Piano. The solo format allows him to reflect his debt to piano masters including Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, and Bud Powell in ways his work with trios and combos hasn't, while showing off his super-refined lyrical touch with its sophisticated sense of color. With its scampering stride touches, "What is This Thing Called Love" is the most upbeat of ballads, while "I Can't Get Started" is given a more gentle awakening. With the exception of "Darkest Before the Dawn," an obscure tune Previn wrote with Johnny Mercer for the British musical The Good Companions, the album touches familiar bases: Rodgers & Hammerstein, Rogers & Hart, Cole Porter, Kurt Weill, Hoagy Carmichael. But invested with personal meaning, this is no typical standards survey. It lives up to the challenge of making your hear these songs in a new light. --Lloyd Sachs