Porgy and Bess (1959)

(DuBose Heyward/George Gershwin)
My Man's Gone Now
(DuBose Heyward/George Gershwin)
I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'
(Ira Gershwin/DuBose Heyward/George Gershwin)
Porgy, I Is Your Woman
(Bess, You Is My Woman)
(Ira Gershwin/DuBose Heyward/George Gershwin)
Oh, I Can't Sit Down
(Ira Gershwin/George Gershwin)
It Ain't Necessarily So
(Ira Gershwin/George Gershwin)
What You Want Wid Bess
(DuBose Heyward/George Gershwin)
I Loves You Porgy
(Ira Gershwin/George Gershwin)
There's Somebody Knockin'
(Ira Gershwin/George Gershwin)
There's A Boat That's Leavin' Soon For New York
(Ira Gershwin/George Gershwin)


Performed by Diahann Carroll and the André Previn Trio.
Produced and directed by Jack Lewis.

Here follows parts of the original linear notes:

Opera is a dirty word (at least in some quarters). Yet this is the word that George Gershwin liked to apply to his masterpiece, Porgy and Bess. Now, jazz (in other quarters) is also a dirty word, and, Porgy and Bess has been called, with some accuracy, a "jazz opera". The semantic don't really matter much, but the fact is that being an opera, and being the work of George Gershwin, Porgy and Bess calls for a high order of singing and musicianship. The opera was no great success while Gershwin lived but in recent years has seen a recognition of Gershwin's "labour of love" (as he described it), and a vindication of his belief in Porgy and Bess, and the viability of its songs. This ultimate justification would have greatly pleased Gershwin.
  So would this album of Porgy and Bess songs interpreted by the lovely Diahann Carroll, accompanied by the inventitive arrangements of the brilliant arranger - pianist - conductor André Previn. Both became familiar with the songs while working on the Samuel Goldwyn production of Porgy and Bess, Diahann appearing in the role of Clara and André serving as musical director.
Diahann's gift for dramatic projection is beautifully displayed in the two of Bess' songs, What You Want Wid Bess? and I Loves You Porgy. Her way with a rhythm song is exemplified by the spiritual There's Somebody Knockin'. Note how variety and tension are built by Diahann and the trio at each repetition of the chorus, leading into the climactic, almost abstract instrumental passage, all of which recreates the excitement and sincerity of religious singing. There's A Boat That's Leavin' Soon For New York is another of sporting life's songs. Diahann sings the Ira Gershwin lyrics meaningfully, and is furnished properly sinister backing by the trio. André contributes a memorable solo, after which Diahann returns in a wonderful change of tempo "ride out" ending.
  A "Labor of love indeed!"
Edward Jablonski

Down Beat wrote the following in their special "Porgy and Bess" issue July 23, 1959:

Among the countless Porgy and Bess LPs turned out in conjunction with release of the movie, one of the lighter and brighter versions came from Diahann Carroll, one of the stars in the picture version of the classic.

Diahann, who like the picture's star, Dorothy Dandridge, had an operatic voice dubbed for her, here does one [picture, above left] of the songs she didn't get a chance to sing in the film. Red Mitchell (bassist) described what happened on the date this way: "Diahann really got pretty 'down' a couple of times during the session and came close to what Gershwin must've had in mind. On one tune she got very funky. Not at all like her usual self..." The trio had previously worked with Diahann on a Westinghouse TV show which headlined Benny Goodman and Andre. "I guess Diahann dug the way we played behind her on that show," surmised Mitchell.

This is an advert for the original album:


DRG Records re-released this album on CD in 2006, as part of their The Broadway Collector Series. The catalogue number is 8501.

Here follows a review from Playbill, written at the time of the CD re-release:

Diahann Carroll burst into the spotlight in 1954, with a featured role in Harold Arlen’s House of Flowers; went on to an especially well-received engagement at the Persian Room in 1960; and earned herself a custom-written role in Richard Rodgers’s 1962 musical No Strings, which brought with it a Best Actress Tony Award. Within a few years, Carroll was starring in a sitcom.

Carroll’s two original cast performances are well-known to musical theatre fans, and in each case pretty marvelous. DRG recently gave us the Persian Room recording, which demonstrated that Carroll was obviously ready for stardom. Now DRG has gone back to 1959 for Diahann Carroll and the Andre Previn Trio: Porgy and Bess. This was an outgrowth of the 1959 motion picture version of the opera; Carroll played Clara (of “Summertime”), with Previn serving as musical director. They combine to give a fine jazz rendition of the Gershwin-Heyward-Gershwin score.

If I don’t think much of Carroll and Previn’s “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’” let me say that everything else is tip-top. Carroll performs Bess’s songs as well as we might expect from the singer who introduced “A Sleepin’ Bee” and “I Never Has Seen Snow.” The songs are performed in the jazz idiom, but Carroll—who won a Metropolitan Opera scholarship at the age of ten—manages to retain the nuances and vocal flourishes that Gershwin intended. If every track (save the one mentioned) is delightful, I find myself especially drawn to the usually overlooked “Oh, I Can’t Sit Down.” Ms. Carroll makes a festival out of what is, in effect, a throwaway chorus; so you can imagine what she does with the rest of Porgy and Bess.

—Steven Suskin