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Michel LeGrand tonight at Blue Note

March 31, 2011

In the early 1950s, Legrand was one of the first Europeans to work with jazz innovators such as Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz. While on a visit to the U.S. in 1958, Legrand collaborated with such musicians as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Phil Woods, Ben Webster, Hank Jones, and Art Farmer in an album of inventive orchestrations of jazz standards titled Legrand Jazz. The following year, back in Paris with bassist Guy Pedersen and percussionist Gus Wallez, he recorded an album of Paris-themed songs arranged for jazz piano trio, titled Paris Jazz Piano. Nearly a decade later he recorded At Shelly’s Manne-Hole (1968), a live trio session with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne, in which four of the compositions were improvised on the spot. Legrand also provided an odd scat vocal on “My Funny Valentine.” After another decade had elapsed, Legrand returned to jazz and collaboration with Phil Woods on Jazz Le Grand (1979) and After the Rain (1982); then he collaborated with violinist Stephane Grappelli on an album in 1992. Not as well received as his earlier work was a 1994 album for LaserLight titled Michel Plays Legrand. More recently, in 2002, he recorded a masterful solo jazz piano album reworking fourteen of his classic songs, Michel Legrand by Michel Legrand. His jazz piano style is virtuosic and eclectic, drawing upon such influences as Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, and Bill Evans.

A number of his songs, including “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?,” “Watch What Happens,” “The Summer Knows,” and “You Must Believe in Spring,” have become jazz standards covered frequently by other artists.
Mr. Legrand will be puttin’ it down tonight at The Blue Note. See you there!

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