In the jazz world of the '90s, tribute albums were a dime a dozen -- there was such a glut of them, in fact, that when yet another young Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, or Clifford Brown clone gave us yet another Cole Porter or George Gershwin tribute, it was easy to rebel. Especially frustrating was the fact that these unimaginative "Young Lions" tended to make the most obvious choices -- heaven forbid that a Duke Ellington tribute, for example, should unearth some of his lesser-known jewels instead of sticking to standards that had been recorded time and time again. So when a jazz tribute album that wasn't generic and predictable came out, you wanted to applaud the artist -- and Freddy Cole deserves applause for this thoughtful Michel Legrand tribute. Cole isn't the only jazzman who has paid tribute to Legrand, and he's hardly the only singer who has recorded such well-known standards as "You Must Believe in Spring" and "Once Upon a Summertime." But paying tribute to Legrand isn't a concept that has been run into the ground, and Cole deserves credit for bringing something personal to those standards as well as a lesser-known Legrand composition like "One at a Time." And this CD (which contains mostly new recordings along with some previously unreleased ones) is noteworthy not only because of Cole's singing, but also, because of expressive soloists like pianist Cedar Walton and saxman Grover Washington, Jr., who has nice guest spots on "Love Makes the Changes" and "You Must Believe in Spring." Those who rebelled against jazz tribute albums in the '90s (understandably so) shouldn't pass on Le Grand Freddy, which is a CD to savor.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson