Michel Legrand has spent most of his life as a composer in the studios and for films, but this release is a jazz classic. Legrand took 11 famous jazz compositions and arranged them for three different groups. Tenor great Ben Webster, flutist Herbie Mann, four trombonists, and a rhythm section perform pieces by Duke Ellington, Earl Hines, Django Reinhardt ("Nuages"), and the Count Basie-associated "Blue and Sentimental." A big band with trumpeters Art Farmer and Donald Byrd and altoist Phil Woods plays "Stompin' at the Savoy," "A Night in Tunisia," and Bix Beiderbecke's "In a Mist." The most famous session has Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Phil Woods, Herbie Mann, pianist Bill Evans, harp, vibes, baritone, and a rhythm section performing music by Thelonious Monk, John Lewis, Jelly Roll Morton ("Wild Man Blues"), and Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz." Throughout this superlative album, the arrangements are colorful and unusual, making one wish that Legrand had recorded more jazz albums through the years.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow