Although André Previn had not recorded a regular jazz album in 27 years at this point in time (discounting a pair of Itzhak Perlman sessions featuring Previn's compositions), the great majority of the performances on this trio set with guitarist Joe Pass and bassist Ray Brown are first takes. Previn took time off from his busy schedule in the classical music world to return briefly to jazz, his first love. The results are often magical. Previn, Pass and Brown play together as if they had been touring as a group for years. The pianist is generous with solo space and Pass' solos are sometimes exhilarating. For Previn, it is as if the previous three decades did not occur for he plays in a style little changed from 1960, displaying an Oscar Peterson influence mixed in with touches of Lennie Tristano and Bill Evans.
While it's true that Oscar Peterson compilations appeared with regularity form the early '60s on, only a few of them – as with most recording artists – have any real merit. This two-disc collection from the Concord Music Group's Telarc label, is one of them. Appearing less than a year before his death, this compilation concentrates on recordings issued from the '50s through the middle of the '80s on Dizzy Gillespie's Pablo label, and those made for Telarc between 1990 and 2000. Many live dates are included here from both labels, including "Tenderly" with Herb Ellis and Ray Brown at the J.A.T.P. concerts in Japan; the trio dates at Zardi's in 1955 ("How High the Moon"), in Copenhagen with Joe Pass, Stéphane Grappelli, and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen in 1979, and Mickey Roker in 1979 ("Nuages")….
This was André Previn's second album after his long, symphonically enforced absence from jazz, and it sounds noticeably more fluid and relaxed than his first. No longer apprehensive about dusting off his old skills, Previn is delightfully confident and breezy (dig his sly turns on "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "C Jam Blues"), taking some chances as he re-phrases and paraphrases a collection of revivified standards, mostly Harold Arlen and assorted Duke Ellington. Even if Previn, that noted wit, sometimes sounds as if he is kidding the pants off these old tunes, it's great to hear him having such a good time playing jazz again. Mundell Lowe is Previn's new guitar partner, and Ray Brown returns on bass; both are right at home in this refined brand of chamber jazz grooving.