Near the beginning of his career, Michel Legrand was primarily known as a jazz pianist, so it shouldn't be surprising to learn that none of his compositions are present on these 1959 studio sessions, which were issued by Phillips. With bassist Guy Pederson and drummer Gus Wallez, Legrand covers songs by French composers of the day along with the ever-popular "Moulin Rouge" and a somewhat upbeat arrangement of Edith Piaf's usually maudlin "La Vie en Rose," as well as standards from the Great American Songbook by Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Vernon Duke, and Mack Gordon. Most of the songs have a Parisian theme to them…
Features 24 bit digital remastering. Comes with a description. An unusual global session for Atlantic Records – an album that has John Lewis presenting work by three other musicians that he feels are ripe for wider discovery! The set's got some killer work from Rene Utreger – a key Parisian player in the postwar years, working here with dexterity that's almost at a Bud Powell level! Dick Katz is also featured on the set – with some nice colors and tones in the mix, similar to some of the work he'd go onto do for Atlantic and other labels. And perhaps the least known here is the British player Derek Smith – stepping out with a lyrical style that's captured surprisingly well here – and which makes the record a key addition to Smith's catalog.
A wonderful collector's edition of jazz pianists' records in almost all styles from the first ragtimes to modern jazz.
Overall, the musicianship here is wonderful. The Claude Quartet plays with precision and feeling, and in lock step. Nuances (subtle dynamics, etc.) have been captured in fuller fidelity than in the original recording, making this an interesting listen. Of course, when you've heard one recording hundreds of time, the first time listening to a new one will seem a bit jarring at times, when the differences are at their greatest - but I'll not place any value on that - it's just different.