Michel Legrand

Bonjour Paris!

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Before getting heavily involved with movie soundtrack work and sundry jazz outings in the '60s and '70s, pianist and composer Michel Legrand made some of his initial recordings with mood and theme albums like this one. While he would also pay tribute to Rome in similar fashion, Legrand seems perfectly suited to put together a Paris homage since he was not only born there, but lived and worked in the city for many years. His orchestra is in fine form as they work through a mix of French favorites, like Edith Piaf's "Hymn to Love" and Charles Trenet's "La Mer"; the former gets the lush supper-club treatment with the occasional left-field twist, while the latter is layered in a dreamy and dramatic Ravel-esque arrangement. And while jazz, street café accordions, Latin touches, classical music, and show tune exuberance are all incorporated into a series of seamlessly complex arrangements, the real highlights come when Legrand turns postmodern (at such an early date) with "cut-up" renditions of "The Poor People of Paris" and the Nat Cole classic "Two Loves Have I": the arrangements come replete with sped up passages (that's from the mixing board), snatches of old song versions that have been spliced in, and a dizzying mix of tempos and tonal colors. The album really works like a film soundtrack for its brevity, manic feel, and pop experimentation. A fine set of pieces that might not rank with Legrand's more mature work, but one that will still please his fans and lovers of film music.

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