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André Previn and His Pals
West Side Story

Review by Dave Glackin
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Andre´ Previn and His Pals West Side Story

CD Stock Number: JVC XRCD2 (JVCXR-0209-2)

 

  The JVC XRCD team continues to produce some of the consistently best sounding CDs out there. The XRCD team of Akira Taguchi (producer), Alan Yoshida (mastering engineer), and Joe Harley (creative direction), have once again done an outstanding job with this XRCD2. The trio of Andre´ Previn (piano), Shelly Manne (drums) and Red Mitchell (bass) is exquisitely captured on this disk.

In JVC's XRCD process, every step of the manufacturing process is carefully optimized and controlled. The mastering is based on JVC's 20-bit, 128-times oversampling K2 ADC (analog-to-digital converter). A Digital K2 is used to regenerate the signal, after which a Sony PCM-9000 is used to store the data on magneto-optical disk (as opposed to the grungy U-matic tapes so often used to send recordings to mastering labs). At the dedicated mastering facility, a JVC Digital K2 is used to convert from 20 bits to 16 bits using its "super coding" mode, which eliminates clock jitter. Regulated AC power feeds are used all the way through to the glass-master cutting stage. The XRCD2 process improves somewhat on the original XRCD process, and the differences are audible, as I found years ago on a test disc.

Leonard Bernstein is one of my favorite American composers. Here he has composed the music to West Side Story, which is basically a musical about love and gang warfare in New York City in the 1950's. Given what has happened in the 40-plus years since then, it might be a little tough to fathom a jazz improvisational version of the music to a musical about gang violence, but that's what this is. The performers, Andre´ Previn, Shelly Manne and Red Mitchell are some of the top musicians of their generation. Jazz fans will especially recognize Shelly Manne, who was consistently voted the best drummer in the business during the late 50's when this was recorded (specifically, 1959 at Contemporary Studios in Los Angeles). Andre´ Previn, possibly better known to you for his contributions to classical music, was also one hell of a jazz pianist. And Red Mitchell really makes his acoustic bass sing. The three instruments are all very well reproduced, with a sense of real players in a real space, and good dynamics. You are likely to recognize "Tonight," "I Feel Pretty," and "Maria," all of which have become somewhat ingrained into the musical fabric of America. I find the single most fascinating thing about this album is that I can listen to three jazz greats improvising on the music for a popular musical, turning it into something quite different, and most enjoyable.

If you know and like the music to West Side Story, I recommend that you buy this version for its fascinating and upbeat interpretation. If you're a jazz lover and you want to explore something a little different, this recording may just be your cuppa tea (or, in my case, Negra Modelo).

 

 

Enjoyment: 85

Sound Quality: 95

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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