"Legrand Jazz" Gets Grand IMPEX AAA Reissue

"Mood music" is how the annotation characterizes this album of medium-sized ensembles imaginatively arranged by the then still in his 20s French jazz enthusiast Michel Legrand. Previous to these 1958 sessions Legrand had released three "mood music" concept albums: I Love Paris (CL555), Columbia Album of Cole Porter (C2L4), Legrand in Rio (CL 1139) and I Love Movies (CL 1178). This was his first stab at a real jazz album andgiven the assembled cast of greats what a heady experience it must have been for him to both arrange and conduct in New York City those three days in early summer, 1958 .

The musicians include Miles Davis (who gets star billing on the jacket front), John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, Hank Jones, Art Farmer, Donald Byrd, Phil Woods, Ben Webster, Herbie Mann, Milt Hinton and even Teo Macero on baritone sax, plus many others.

Legrand divided the talent into three groups: one was a "whimsical" ensemble of bass, drums, piano, vibes, alto, tenor and baritone sax, bass clarinet, trumpet, guitar, flute and harp. Another an unusual grouping of four trombones, flute, tenor sax (Ben Webster), anchored by bass, drums and piano, while the third and largest group stacked four trumpets, two trombones, two alto, a tenor and a baritone sax, French horn, vibes, piano, bass and drums.

Legrand was painting colors with music in some ways reminiscent of Debussy, as well as Duke Ellington. It might be argued that Legrand's brush used some water colors borrowed from Gil Evans. At least that's what it sounds like. The tunes are all jazz and pop classic standards

The album opens with a soufflé-light take on Fats Waller's "The Jitterbug Waltz" that of course spotlights Miles, but also gives space for Evans, Coltrane Phil Woods and others. Evans runs with a repeated "leaves fluttering" motif that have you floating. Next comes Django Reinhardt's "Nuages"—a short number arranged for the guitar-less second group featuring Ben Webster whose breathy presence is immediately recognizable.

Not going to do a song by song countdown but a few highlights include a lovely "'Round Midnight" (of course with Miles), a gossamer take on John Lewis's "Django" with Evans on piano, Miles on mute trumpet and Betty Glamann's heavily harp floating above, and a four trumpet version of "Night In Tunisia". The tracking mixes and matches pleasingly with the raucous "Night in Tunisia" followed by "Blue and Sentimental" after which you'll feel like getting up and wiping from your speakers the moisture deposited by Webster's solo.

The recording epitomizes the 30th Street Studio sound circa 1958. Does anything else have to be said? As you might recall, a Speakers Corner reissue of this record with the European cover was one of that label's few debacles as it was from a mono tape that had been electronically reprocessed for stereo acquired from Legrand's manager who had it stored in a closet. No doubt SC thought they'd scored some kind of coup but no one must have listened.

This IMPEX reissue is sourced from an "analog mix-down transfer of the original 1958 work tape by Mark Wilder at Battery Studios" and cut by Chris Bellman and Bob Donnelly at Bernie Grundman Mastering on Grundman's all-tube mastering system. I have a clean, original 6-Eye pressing that this superbly pressed reissue betters in every way. This will make both your stereo and your heart sing. Some of the greatest jazz musicians of that or any era wailing and clearly having a Legrand time. Limited to 3000 copies. Don't miss it!

Music Direct Buy It Now

COMMENTS
elmitz's picture

...the best addition to my collection in quite a while.

The music is just wonderful and the recording is superb. Hopefully others will find out about this beauty thanks to your exposure.

In heavy rotation in my system since I received it!

Martin's picture

As usual, telling it like you hear it.
I ordered this a couple of weeks ago from Elusive disc.
Time to follow up.

bkinthebk's picture

can you please go troll somewhere else? you're imposing whatever grievance you have with MF on the rest of us and it's time to shut it down and find a way to deal with your emotions elsewhere.

Michael Fremer's picture
in this pathetic douche's life, nothing is "superb" so whenever anything is so described, it truly bothers him. He's harmless and pathetic.
avanti1960's picture

thank you Michael.

rijichert's picture

Thanks! I just got Legrand along with 2 Art Blakey, 3 Three Blind Mice and Dave Brubeck's "Time Further Out" by IMPEX records. Oh, what a treat!

Michael, have you heard of "Jazz Workshop" (freshsoundrecords dot com) records from Spain? Among other things, they issued some good Blue Mitchell's, Red Garland's and Yusef Lateef's albums. They claim they are mastered from the analog tapes. Thanks!

isaacrivera's picture

There are a few of them. They are always located in Barcelona. If you notice they only reissue recordings 50 years or older and they never reveal their sources. In Europe copyrights expire at 50 years. This allows them to use any CD on the market as the master and reissue vinyl copies of the CD. These records are not supposed to be available for sale in the USA where copyright is longer. I fell once for this scam. If the price seems too good to be true, it is. Only buy from trusted European labels like Speakers Corner, Pure Pleasure Records, etc.

Michael Fremer's picture
Not heard of them but the master tape claims made by most Spanish reissue companies and Italian ones and others are rubbish! Most are cut from CDs of material no longer protected by international copyright laws, sad to say...
miniguy's picture

Mastered from a CD, no doubt, but when I was in Paris last March on a vinyl hunt in my spare time, I discovered this label at a Left Bank record store. I noticed that they had reissued several Pacific Jazz titles. One caught my eye, "The Remarkable Carnell Jones". I had an original 40 years ago which mysteriously disappeared and I was thrilled to see it again, regardless of the nature of its current incarnation, but hoping that it wouldn't be too awful sonically. When I returned home I was very pleasantly surprised at the sound quality, so much so that I had stopped looking for a reasonably priced original on eBay. The €22 I paid was more than worth it.

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