All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

1

Michel Legrand: Legrand Jazz

Patrick Burnette By

Sign in to view read count
Michel Legrand is best known for his long and fruitful career in movie soundtracks, but as a young man in 1958 he was featured in an arranger's showcase with a collection of jazz masters, including Ben Webster, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Miles Davis.

Columbia Records in 1958 had an unparalleled roster to offer the young French phenom; the label also had the studio chops to make the result an audiophile treasure sixty years later (Impex Records reissued the album on vinyl and SACD in 2017; at least one critic gave the sound quality an 11 out of 10). LeGrand did fine work with the bounty on offer, crafting a series of tight and mildly challenging arrangements that showcased his writing while giving just enough room for his super-charged soloists to shine. There is perhaps a touch of Gallic insouciance which prevent the results from having the legendary status of the Gil Evans collaborations with Miles Davis, but LeGrand's genuine love of jazz or his commitment to sleek, modern swing is clear.

Given the personalities featured, it's a bit surprising this album isn't better known, but then the small army of greatness on hand may be one cause of its relative obscurity. LeGrand deploys three different ensembles across the eleven tracks: an expanded version of Miles Davis' first great sextet (with Phil Woods in Cannonball Adderley's chair), a trombone ensemble cushioning the mellifluous Ben Webster, and a little big band featuring four trumpeters. The different groupings give LeGrand lots of colors to play with, but the only thing holding the effort together is LeGrand's writing. There's a plethora of great musicians, but each only gets a few cameos (Miles Davis snags top billing, but it's actually Herbie Mann, for better or worse, who twitters on the most tracks).

So the album is as much a sequence of pleasurable moments as a unified whole, but the moments are extremely pleasurable and the air of sophistication hovering over the enterprise helps the center hold. LeGrand chose to arrange tunes written by actual jazz musicians rather than the usual Great American Songbook suspects. He pleasurably confounds expectations by having Miles Davis blow on "Jitterbug Waltz" and taking Bix Beiderbecke's "In a Mist" at cruising speed. Only "'Round Midnight" is a bit too on-the-nose, featuring Davis in much the same mood and setting offered on the trumpeter's Gil Evan's arranged rendition of the tune.

The mid-fifties to the mid-sixties were a magic time for jazz and if you enjoy the music of that era at all, LeGrand Jazz should not be missed. The vinyl edition sounds wonderful, but whatever format you prefer, Mr. LeGrand's tour de force is worth a listen.

Track Listing: The Jitterbug Waltz; Nuages; Night in Tunisia; Blue and Sentimental; Stompin’ at the Savoy; Django; Wild Man Blues; Rosetta; ‘Round Midnight; Don’t Get Around Much Anymore; In a Mist.

Personnel: Gene Quill, Phil Woods: alto saxophone; Teo Macero: baritone saxophone; Jerome Richardson: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; George Duvivier, Milt Hinton, Paul Chambers: bass; Major Holley: bass. tuba; Michel Legrand: conductor, arranger; Don Lamond, Kenny Dennis, Osie Johnson: drums; Herbie Mann: flute; James Buffington: French horn; Barry Galbraith: guitar; Betty Glamann: harp; Bill Evans, Hank Jones, Nat Pierce: piano; Ben Webster, John Coltrane, Seldon Powell: tenor saxophone; Billy Byers, Eddie Bert, Frank Rehak, Jimmy Cleveland, Jimmy Cleveland: trombone; Art Farmer, Donald Byrd, Ernie Royal, Joe Wilder, Miles Davis: trumpet; Don Elliot, Eddie Costa: vibraphone.

Title: Legrand Jazz | Year Released: 1958 | Record Label: Columbia Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road CD/LP/Track Review
Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 25, 2018
Read 8 Songs CD/LP/Track Review
8 Songs
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Facing Dragons CD/LP/Track Review
Facing Dragons
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Brothers CD/LP/Track Review
Brothers
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 24, 2018
Read The Fearless Flyers CD/LP/Track Review
The Fearless Flyers
by John Bricker
Published: September 24, 2018
Read "Perception" CD/LP/Track Review Perception
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 15, 2018
Read "Ravensburg" CD/LP/Track Review Ravensburg
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Liberation Narratives" CD/LP/Track Review Liberation Narratives
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 31, 2017
Read "Bright Force" CD/LP/Track Review Bright Force
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 30, 2018
Read "EP 1" CD/LP/Track Review EP 1
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 16, 2018
Read "Awase" CD/LP/Track Review Awase
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 26, 2018