Barney Kessel – Kessel Plays “Carmen” {Contemporary}[OJC]

Review by Scott Yanow
This is an unusual set that has been reissued on CD. During an era when many Broadway and movie scores were recorded in jazz settings (thanks in part to the success of Shelly Manne’s best-selling My Fair Lady album), guitarist Barney Kessel chose to interpret nine melodies from Bizet’s opera Carmen. The guitarist is heard in three different settings: joined by five woodwinds and a rhythm section; with five jazz horns (including altoist Herb Geller and trumpeter Ray Linn) and a trio; and with vibraphonist Victor Feldman in a quintet. Kessel also wrote the arrangements, which pay tribute to the melodies while not being shy of swinging the themes. An interesting if not essential project.

01 – Swingin’ the Toreador 05:52
02 – A Pad on the Edge of Town 06:46
03 – If You Dig Me 04:04
04 – Free As a Bird 05:00
05 – Viva El Toro! 03:15
06 – Flowersville 06:00
07 – Carmen’s Cool 04:43
08 – Like, There’s No Place Like… 03:59
09 – The Gypsy’s Hip 03:56

Barney Kessel – guitar
Harry Betts – trombone
Ray Linn – trumpet
Herb Geller – alto sax
Justin Gordon – flute, alto flute, tenor sax
Chuck Gentry – baritone sax
Buddy Collette – flue, alto flute, clarinet
Bill Smith – clarinet, bass clarinet
Jules Jacob – oboe, clarinet
Pete Terry – bass clarinet, bassoon
Andre Previn – piano
Joe Mondragon – bass
Shelly Manne – drums

Recorded in Contemporary Records studio, Los Angeles; December 19 & 22, 1958.

Label: Contemporary / OJC
Year: 1986
Genre: Jazz
Total Time: 43:34

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Andre Previn, Mundell Lowe, Ray Brown – Old Friends {TELARC}

Review by Scott Yanow (

Andre Previn’s “jazz comeback” has been a welcome event even though he clearly regards his jazz playing as an occasional affair. It is to Previn’s great credit that when he plays improvised music he sounds like a fulltime jazz pianist. This trio outing with guitarist Mundell Lowe and bassist Ray Brown was his third jazz date of the period and features the veteran players swinging standards lightly but with passion. A medley has unaccompanied solos by each of the musicians; other highlights include cooking versions of “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” “One O’Clock Jump,” “Topsy” and “Sweet Georgia Brown” in addition to some heartfelt ballad renditions.

01 – But Not for Me
02 – Stars Fell on Alabama
03 – Stompin’ at the Savoy
04 – Medley: Darn That Dream / Here’s That Rainy Day / Polka Dots and Moonbeams
05 – On O’Clock Jump
06 – Topsy
07 – Medley: The Bad and the Beautiful / Laura
08 – Moonsweeper Blues
09 – Over the Rainbow
10 – Satin Doll
11 – Sweet Georgia Brown

Andre Previn – piano
Mundell Lowe – guitar
Ray Brown – bass

Recorded live at SummerFest La Jolla; a production of
La Jolla Chamber Music Society, on August 24, 1991.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Ella Fitzgerald and Andre Previn – Nice Work If You Can Get It {Pablo} “Japan”

Review by Scott Yanow (

Ella Fitzgerald, who in the late ’50s recorded the very extensive George and Ira Gershwin Songbook, revisits their music on this duet outing with pianist André Previn. Her voice was past her prime by this point, but she was able to bring out a lot of the beauty in the ten songs, giving the classic melodies and lyrics tasteful and lightly swinging treatment. Nice Work If You Can Get It is not an essential CD but is a reasonably enjoyable outing.

01 – A Foggy Day
02 – Nice Work If You Can Get It
03 – But Not for Me
04 – Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off
05 – How Long Has This Been Going On?
06 – Who Cares?
07 – Medley: I’ve Got a Crush on You / Someone to Watch Over Me / Embraceable You
08 – They Can’t Take That Away from Me

Ella Fitzgerald – vocals
Andre Previn – piano
Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen – bass

Recorded on May 23, 1983.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork