25/07/2014 – Michel Legrand-Jitterburg Waltz (1958)

As the Jazz Festival rolls on, Michel Legrand is on a near constant loop



Some jazz albums are hard work but once you crack them they are a pleasure (Sun Ra I’m looking at you now). Some are light and fluffy (Henry Mancini, this is your territory) and others are just immediate, regardless of their textures. Legrand Jazz is one of these.



Michel Legrand at the time was more famous for recording film scores, than jazz albums, but this didn’t stop him assembling the greatest line up of musician’s. Not just of the time of recording, but possibly of all time. Legrand decided it was probably easier to pick 11 standards and get everyone to play them, than to compose something new and try and get his dream to rehearse and record them. Instead of having everyone play at once he devised that they should be split into three separate groups. The session that has remained lodged in people’s mind is the one consisting of John Coltrane, Phil Woods, Herbie Mann, Bill Evan and Miles Davis. The tracks they cut are just spine chillingly wonderful. But it’s not just the players that make this album special, it’s the way that Legrand’s arrangements keep you on your toes as you don’t know what he’s going to do next. It shows that he was one of the greatest arrangers of music at his time.



There are only two downsides to the albums. Firstly as it is so good, if you play it too much everything else you listen to after just doesn’t sound as good. Secondly you are left feeling the pangs of regret that Legrand didn’t make more studio albums, as this is quite possibly one of the greatest albums ever recorded!



And now back to the present. Last night I had the privileged to see Jon Mapp. While he is technically not 100% jazz, Mapp does use certain techniques and devices that on a jazz line up he fits right in. What he does is simple. Mapp plays certain patterns of bass notes, which he then records and loops. Then he plays new bass parts over this (along with percussive beats and rhythms). Easy eh?




But the real cleverness is the intricacies and interplay of the old and new bass runs. It’s melodic, hypnotic and strangely beautiful. His debut album The World Will End with a Bang was released earlier in the year and its 48 minutes of this formula. The results are stark reflections of modernity and modern life.





Last night performance was on the most interesting and mesmerising things I have seen for a long time. The only downside was that when Mapp had brought some songs to the peak, there wasn’t quite the payoff I was hoping for. I’m not saying I wanted an explosion or airhorn, heaven forbid, but I think he could take a couple of pointers of post-rock bands and really build for something amazing using fuzz\distortion pedals. Other than that it was a near perfect set! I’m looking forward to seeing the evolution of this new and exciting artist!



Michel Legrand – The Jitterburg Waltz



July 2014









If you like this why not check out



Miles Davis



Sarah Vaughan



Henry Mancini



Charles Mingus



The Dave Brubeck Quartet

    • Legrande is an absolute legend! Jon Mapp is looking like one to watch for the future too!

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