With the advent of stereo technology in the '50s came a bevy of theme albums to showcase the new sonic terrain: French wine drinking songs, square dancing calls, and bachelor-pad production numbers. Composer Michel Legrand certainly made a few forays into the "travel the world in stereo" end of the genre with a handful of musical portraits of Paris, Vienna, Spain, and Rome. But while his well-known I Love Paris record and equally engaging, yet more obscure Bonjour Paris release both find Legrand in an somewhat experimental mood (presaging his later soundtrack work of the '60s and '70s), this mostly straightforward and easy listening homage to the Eternal City comes off rather polite and bland sounding. No jazz breaks or stylistic mishmashes here, just dreamy and string-laden versions of Italian favorites tied together by the ubiquitous and classic sound of a mandolin. Not for fans of Legrand's more mature and adventurous film and jazz work, but certainly a high-end example of MOR '50s theme albums.
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