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Michel LEGRAND
Live in Brussels

Celebrated Film Scores, Jazz Tunes and Chansons
Directed by Jeremy Rozen, produced by Vic Demayo, Bernd Hellthaler, Peter Gistelinck and Gunther Broucke 
rec. Flagey Studio 4 Concert Hall, Brussels, 2005
Picture Format: 16:9; Sound Format PCM Stereo DD 5.1, DTS 5.1; Subtitles GB, D; region Code 0 [Worldwide]; Disc Format: DVD9
EUROARTS 2055118 [115:00]
 


The multi-talented Legrand, seventy-three when this concert was taped, continues to delight. This is a two-part concert, recorded in Brussels in 2005 on what one assumes was the same evening. The first part features the Flemish Radio Orchestra and the second his jazz quartet, though his group is interspersed amidst orchestral ranks in the first part as well.
 
The orchestral film scores are played with the flair one has come to expect from Legrand and they’re enlivened – and textures varied – through some fine solo contributions from guest stars. Hervé Meschinet explores How Do You Keep The Music Playing, cushioned by orchestral support and discreet jazz trio (guitar, bass, drums). Legrand conducts with obvious enjoyment and sympathy. Claude Egéa plays flügelhorn on the Bond theme Never Say Never Again and trumpet on Dingo Howl, one of the more recent - and less well known - scores essayed by its composer. Both soloists join Legrand, now at the piano, for Les Demoiselles de Rochefort and Meschinet has one further outing on Summer of ’42. The classical harpist Catherine Michel stars in a reading of Yentl.
 
Camera work is broadly conventional though sometimes a touch busy. There are some good sectional shots of the orchestra though sometimes things haven’t quite been timed properly and there’s a scrabble to find the melody instrument in the band (to be fair this happens only twice).  The notes only refer to Egéa playing the trumpet, not the flugel. And fans of such things will note his homage to Dizzy Gillespie in the vertiginously upturned bell; elsewhere he plays mute, and sounds very much à la Miles.
 
Amidst the empty orchestral chairs Legrand appears with his quartet for Part II, an apposite selection of Jazz and Chansons. His chops are undimmed by the years, his spoken intros full of Gallic drollery – his gag about “my brief career” features twice – and his command of the keyboard as impressive as ever. His trio features guitarist Peter Verbraken, bassist Bart Denolf and drummer Jean-Philippe Komac, all congenial partners. One of the most beautiful moments occurs in his tribute to the poet and lyricist Jean Dréjac whose Le Vieux Costume Legrand sings with touching simplicity. He sings a lot in the second half in his occasionally strangulated but always wise voice. As a finale he subjects Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, which he must have played half a million times, to some dramatic tempo variants adding a dramatic tango to boot.
 
An enjoyable concert then of a still vibrant musician, whose jazz licks are well versed in bop, and whose heart still beats to the chansons of his youth.
 
Jonathan Woolf
 

 


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