Michael Feinstein – Change Of Heart – The Songs Of André Previn – Telarc TEL 34021-02 40:25 [Distr. by Concord] ****:
(Michael Feinstein – vocals; André Previn – piano; David Finck – bass)
Although he had a classical music education, André Previn’s first love was always jazz and he began his jazz recording career in 1946 with a group he called the André Previn All Stars. However it probably was not until 1956 when he recorded My Fair Lady along with drummer Shelly Manne and bassist Leroy Vinnegar that he cemented a solid reputation in that genre. Michael Feinstein is a flamboyant singer/pianist with a fascination with the Great American Songbook and the composers who created that material. Together they have lovingly brought to life some of Previn’s popular song catalogue in this release entitled Change Of Heart.
Most of the compositions presented in this session had lyrics written by Dory Previn during the period when she was married to André from 1959 to 1970. All one has to do is to look at the song titles to understand that these are not at all your standard pop fare, but were crafted by a unique lyricist who drew upon her difficult childhood, crumbling marriage, and mental illness, to express her emotions. In some of his previous recordings where Michael Feinstein has accompanied himself on the piano the results have been uneven. This partly due to his over-the-top piano style, and with his somewhat limited vocal range, he has had to compete with himself for vocal space. This is not the case here, since Previn proves to be the ideal accompanist, staying in the background and adhering to the musical philosophy that less is more. Feinstein’s vocals are the models of restraint as he caresses the lyrics and pays particular attention to the meaning of the words.
From the very first notes of the opening track “(You’ve Had A) Change Of Heart,” Feinstein establishes himself as a vocalist of unerring composure with an affinity to this music. Many of the Previn & Previn compositions have found their way onto the big screen including five songs for Valley Of The Dolls comprising “The Easy Way” (although it was never used) and “Give A Little More”. These compositions are both cultured and lyrical, conveyed in a sophisticated way by Feinstein, along with Previn’s support, delivered in a creative and understanding manner. Two of the other more recognizable compositions are “A Second Chance” from Two For The Seesaw and “You’re Gonna Hear From Me” used in Inside Daisy Clover. Again Feinstein and Previn validate their resourcefulness and adaptability.
This album conveys a self-assured aesthetic offered with elegance and sophistication. [His voice is rather bass-emphasized, but Previn’s accompaniment is remarkable…Steven Ritter]
TrackList: (You’ve Had A) Change Of Heart; The Easy Way; Empty Is My Room; Yes; Give A Little More; It’s Good To Have You Near Again; Just For Now; Little Lost Dream; Medley: A Second Chance/Why Are We Afraid?; Quiet Music; You’re Gonna Hear from Me; Goodbye