Top positive review
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The Test of the Best
on September 21, 2000
This is my favorite jazz record from the 1950s. Legrand's orchestrations have a subtle mixture of romantic understantement and Stravinskian modernity that is absolutely fantastic; they truly add some incredible complexity to what the soloists are doing without in any way hampering them, in fact, they inspire them to new heights of expressive purity.
Legrand is famous for his 'romantic' jazz-influenced soundtracks for "The Thomas Crown Affair," "Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and other flicks, which can often get too schmaltzy and nauseating. On Legrand Jazz, however, he tried to make his ultimate artistic statement without any commercial compromise, and man did it work! Everything is just right and there isn't a touch of mawkishness anywhere---just sophisticated, transcendent music. All the tracks are super-sublime and fancy-fine, and the more you listen to them the better they get.
Each of these three 1958 dates featured a different band: a 10 piece, an 11, and 15. The players? Ben Webster, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Phil Woods, Hank Jones, Jimmy Cleveland, Art Farmer, Ernie Royal, Donald Byrd, Herbie Mann, Eddie Costa, Paul Chambers, just to name a few of the more famous honchos. There are plenty of solos but they weave themselves in and out of the arrangements in a way that synergizes the music and lifts it to a higher plane. Especially choice among a record full of choice solos are Ben Webster's super-creamy lines on "Blue and Sentimental," and, of course, Miles Davis' immortal poetry on "Round Midnight," "Django" and "Jitterbug Waltz."