Wednesday, March 1, 2017

SACD of the Month - "Michel Legrand: Twenty Songs Of The Century"

SACD of the Month (Hybrid)
Michel Legrand: "Twenty Songs Of The Century" (Bell/Vocalion) 1974/2017
Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Produced by Michel Legrand & Nat Shapiro
Associate Producer: Arlene Chapman
Art Director: Beverly Weinstein
Album Design: The Music Agency
Recording Engineers: Alan Varner, Frank Laico, Jorgen Jorgensen, Yves Chamberlan
Mixed By Michel Legrand and Don Young
Music Consultants: Mort Goode and George Painkin

Reissue Producers: Michael J. Dutton and Oliver Lomax
SACD Remastering: Michael J. Dutton
Arranged & Conducted by Michel Legrand
Associate Conductor: Tom Pierson
Contractor: Marvin Stamm

Featuring: Michel Legrand (acoustic piano, synthesizers, whistle), Ron Carter (acoustic bass), Grady Tate (drums), Airto Moreira (cuica, shaker, percussion), Gene Bertoncini (electric guitar), Phil Woods (alto sax), Eddie Daniels (tenor sax & flute), Marvin Stamm (trumpet), Toots Thielemans (harmonica), Max Polikoff (concertmaster)
One of my desert island discs. A wondrous project, originally released as a 2-LP set with gatefold cover. A lesson in orchestration provided by one of the world's greatest arrangers. The album concept was/is very challenging, but Legrand succeded in all aspects, leading a 60-piece orchestra with tremendous soloists such as Phil Woods, Toots Thielemans, Marvin Stamm and Eddie Daniels soloing brilliantly on top of a equally brilliant rhythm section (Ron Carter, Grady Tate, Airto, Gene Bertoncini).

All of the 20 great songs appear on a way you've never heard them before, I swear! From W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" to Antonio Carlos Jobim/Newton Mendonça's "One Note Samba" (Samba de Uma Nota Só) on which Legrand performs an unbelievably astonishing solo using two acoustic pianos, as if in a duet with himself, propelled by Airto's intoxicating batucada breaks.

The "multi-channel" effect of this SACD actually is the original quadraphonic mix from 1974, since the vinyl was released both on stereo and quad albums. A stereo K2 24-bit remastered CD had been already released in Japan in 2004 by BMG.

The masterpiece of the masterpieces.

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