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Watch What Happens - the songs of Michel Legrand

Artist: Dominic Alldis

Date of Release: 01/05/2002

Catalogue no: CANZCD3

Label: Canzona Music

Price: £12

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Appearances by

Malcolm Creese, Tim Garland

"He's one of the great songwriters. I really think they're wonderful melodies", declares Dominic Alldis. Michel Legrand has long been taken up by jazz players - Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Phil Woods - looking for successors to the Great American Songbook. Vocally the results have been mixed - till now. Dominic is a genuine jazz singer; that is, an exponent of the rare art of improvisation through interpretation of a lyric. Here he turns his artistry to Legrand's golden songwriting period of the late 60s and early 70s. Having lived in France for five years he is fluent in French, sings the swinging jazz numbers in English and the ballad chansons in French. Dominic's beautifully-judged arrangements feature his own post-Bill Evans piano with internationally-renowned Tim Garland on tenor and soprano saxophone, Colin Oxley on guitar, Malcolm Creese on bass, and the Allegri String Quartet, no less, on three tracks. If you love these interpretations, as I do, you'll also appreciate the previous two albums on his own CANZONA label: If Love Were All, the songs of Noël Coward (CANZ CD2) - where Tim Garland is again essential to the album's artistic success - and Turn Out The Stars, the songs of Bill Evans (CANZ CD1). Andy Hamilton

 

Reviews

 

01/10/2002 Brian Priestley

Lovely and, on the surface, not very 'jazz.' But watch what happens when you combine an intelligent singer with fine accompanists and the insinuating melodies of Michel Legrand. Given that Alldis first made his in-group reputation as an expert Evans-influenced pianist, it takes guts to begin this programme with a song entitled 'Nobody Knows The Sound Of My Voice' and, despite two previous vocal CDs, he does take some getting used to. But, as with (say) Richard Rodney Bennett or the very different Ian Shaw, his idiosyncracies and vulnerabilities grow on you until you're convinced they're just right. Despite the very Englishness of it, Alldis also sings four famous tunes in French and, again, you're forced to question the decision before finally being swept along. The strings aren't used on most tracks, but a couple of Oxley solos, one by Creese and four gorgeous contributions by Garland remind you that there's jazz here too.

 

26/05/2002 Dave Gelly, The Observer

Alldis is probably unique “a polished and delicate jazz pianist who also sings in what might be termed the 'high-cabaret' style. Previous releases have included CDs dedicated to the work of Noel Coward and Bill Evans. This time it's Michel Legrand, whom Alldis considers one of the great songwriters, and he performs here with such subtle precision, in both English and French, that the point is proved. He's accompanied by the guitar and bass of Colin Oxley and Malcolm Creese, with occasional judicious comments by saxophonist Tim Garland and, in three pieces, the Allegri String Quartet.

 

01/05/2002 John Truitt, Jazz Review

Michel Legrand is a favourite for single-composer albums, but he's never been done in the way that Alldis approaches the task. Half in English, half in French, the tunes are a fairly obvious choice, but the singer (and pianist - the keyboard gets plenty of space) isn't shy about imposing his own aesthetic. The fundamentally light timbre of his voice, the refusal to allow self-regarding vibrato or mannerism, puts an unusually intense light on the material: melodies are delineated with a clarity that might be crystalline, if it weren't for the smooth, un-brittle kind of delivery which Alldis works with. He's a recitalist, rather than any kind of jazz bohemian: what a friend of mine calls "yabba-doo bulls***" (scat, in other words) is conspicuously absent. In French, especially, he all but tastes the words as he goes forward. With the barest of accompaniments (sax, piano, bass, a very small string section - and that used sparingly) he moves through the material without lingering, yet without hurrying too.

Alldis conceives Legrand in a more tragic way than most interpreters. The lovelorn master of songs such as "I Will Wait For You" is usually balanced by an 'up' side, but Alldis prefers to dwell on the desolating aspects of a formidable songbook. This is a vista where the trees are shorn and the skies dark, les parapluies de Cherbourg are always raised, and there's no sun in the offing. I like the cultivated, old-world elegance of it all, but even a hopeful design such as "You Must Believe In Spring" (en Francais) comes with a cargo of fatalism. So be prepared for sobriety: but in his restrained, impeccable way, Alldis has come up with something completely individual, a valuable alternative to the jazz vocal norm.

 

01/05/2002 Dave Nathan, All Music Guide

Every now and then, there's an album dedicated to a single composer which helps crystallize just how good that composer is, or was. This is true with Dominic Alldis' tribute album to Michel Legrand. Legrand started writing in 1953 when he composed the sound track for a French short Beau Fixe. Since then, he has composed a huge body of work for many films, TV shows, and other vehicles. Needless to say, he has numerous albums to his credit - both of his own works and in support of other performers - winning Oscars, Grammys, and other awards along the way. English singer and pianist Dominic Alldis, who has released albums dedicated to the music of Bill Evans and Noel Coward, has gathered a play list of Legrand material, some familiar and some a whit obscure, for his fourth release. On some cuts, Alldis sings; others are strictly instrumental. For the vocal cuts, some are in French, others in English. The same is true with the lyrics in the liner notes. They are divided between the two languages. The arrangements are also quite special. On "Les Demoiselles de Rochefort" (The Young Girls of Rochefort), when Alldis is singing (in French), he's accompanied by the rather grandiloquent Allegri String Quartet. Following a chorus of this, the Alldis-led piano quartet picks up for a slightly jazzier chorus, before Alldis the singer takes the rest with the strings. In contrast, on "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life," Alldis sings and plays piano with Tim Garland's sax getting a couple of solo interludes. This album will definitely appeal to those who cherish Legrand's music, as well as those who appreciate tasteful musicianship, and there's plenty of that on this album. Recommended. ***

 

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