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Jazz - Released June 12, 1954 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Jazz - Released January 29, 1958 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Jazz and film noir are perfect bedfellows, as evidenced by the soundtrack of Louis Malle's Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud (Lift to the Scaffold). This dark and seductive tale is wonderfully accentuated by the late-'50s cool or bop music of Miles Davis, played with French jazzmen -- bassist Pierre Michelot, pianist René Urtreger, and tenor saxophonist Barney Wilen -- and American expatriate drummer Kenny Clarke. This recording evokes the sensual nature of a mysterious chanteuse and the contrasting scurrying rat race lifestyle of the times, when the popularity of the automobile, cigarettes, and the late-night bar scene were central figures. Davis had seen a screening of the movie prior to his making of this music, and knew exactly how to portray the smoky hazed or frantic scenes though sonic imagery, dictated by the trumpeter mainly in D-minor and C-seventh chords. Michelot is as important a figure as the trumpeter because he sets the tone, as on the stalking "Visite du Vigile." While the mood of the soundtrack is generally dour and somber, the group collectively picks up the pace exponentially on "Diner au Motel." At times the distinctive Davis trumpet style is echoed into dire straits or death wish motifs, as on "Generique" or "L'Assassinat de Carala," respectively. Clarke is his usual marvelous self, and listeners should pay close attention to the able Urtreger, by no means a virtuoso but a capable and flexible accompanist. This recording can stand proudly alongside Duke Ellington's music from Anatomy of a Murder and the soundtrack of Play Misty for Me as great achievements of artistic excellence in fusing dramatic scenes with equally compelling modern jazz music. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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French Music - Released January 1, 1959 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1959 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1960 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Near the beginning of his career, Michel Legrand was primarily known as a jazz pianist, so it shouldn't be surprising to learn that none of his compositions are present on these 1959 studio sessions, which were issued by Phillips. With bassist Guy Pederson and drummer Gus Wallez, Legrand covers songs by French composers of the day along with the ever-popular "Moulin Rouge" and a somewhat upbeat arrangement of Edith Piaf's usually maudlin "La Vie en Rose," as well as standards from the Great American Songbook by Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Vernon Duke, and Mack Gordon. Most of the songs have a Parisian theme to them. Legrand's piano style is hard to define, as he shows a variety of influences without letting any of them overwhelm his sound. His eventual fame as a composer would grow tremendously during the decades that followed the making of this recording, but this LP from the Jazz in Paris series is well worth purchasing to get a taste of his early career. © Ken Dryden /TiVo
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French Music - Released January 1, 1961 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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French Music - Released January 1, 1963 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Jazz - Released September 19, 1963 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1964 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Jazz - Released September 1, 1973 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1986 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

This 16-track, 63-minute CD is compiled from the best material off of the Swingle Singers' classic mid-'60s LPs. The sound is excellent (and offers a serious edge over the original LPs which, unlike later Philips classical releases, were pressed here in America and were usually fairly noisy), and the repertory is chosen perfectly. Among the highlights is the group's version of "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik," featuring their version of the closing "Rondo," which became the closing theme of The Clay Cole Show (a cooler version of American Bandstand, out of New York) for at least a year after its 1965 release. Among the singers featured here is soprano Christianne LeGrand, who subsequently sang on Procol Harum's Grand Hotel album. © TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1988 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Chet Baker's first trip to Paris had its share of twists. His regular pianist, Russ Freeman, was unavailable, so the promising young player Dick Twardzik was recruited. Unfortunately, a few weeks after the quartet arrived, Twardzik was found dead in his hotel room from a heroin overdose. Baker still had bookings to honor, so he recruited French pianist René Urtreger and drummer Bert Dahlander to replace Peter Littman (who had returned to the U.S.). The first of four volumes includes all of the selections recorded for Barclay that feature the Baker quartet with Twardzik; all but one were composed by Bob Zieff, enjoyable pieces but hardly expected to become a part of the jazz canon. Twardzik plays a little bit of celeste at the beginning of his composition "The Girl from Greenland," which has some more adventurous chord progressions than Zieff's material. The later group with Urtreger adds two horns, alto saxophonist Jean Aldegon, and trombonist Benny Vasseur, which doesn't sound like a pickup group at all. The extra horns take some pressure off the leader, while the final piece, "In Memory of Dick" was contributed by Belgian saxophonist Bobby Jaspar (who would also die prematurely at a young age). If the Baker-Twardzik group had been able to work together for an extended period, it might have produced compelling music. This collection is enjoyable though it falls short of being essential. Long out of print and fetching ridiculous prices at auction, this music reappeared in a comprehensive boxed set of Baker's Barclay recordings that was issued in 2008. © Ken Dryden /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1988 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
The final CD in this four-volume series features alternate versions of the many selections recorded by Chet Baker while in Europe for his first visit. Taken from four different sessions, he is heard with a quartet, a sextet and two different quintets (including one with the fine tenor-saxophonist Bobby Jaspar). Each of these sets are essential for true Chet Baker fans. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1988 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
The third of four CDs in this valuable series continues the documentation of Baker's first trip to Europe with three interesting sessions. Baker is teamed with tenor-saxophonist Bobby Jaspar and pianist Rene Urtreger for four selections, interacts with the tenor of Jean-Louis Chautemps and pianist Francy Boland on the next four songs and is finally heard with a fine French octet. Throughout this entire series, the trumpeter is in fine form. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1988 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Soundtrack albums are generally music-minus-one affairs, the "one" being the film. The music for soundtracks is meant to accentuate the visual story but, taken by itself, it usually sounds very incomplete. This LP, only recommended to completists, mostly features Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in December 1958, playing short themes and sketches that were used in the French film Des Femmes Disparaissent. In addition, there are five longer segments from Les Tricheurs with such all-stars as Stan Getz, Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, and Mezz Mezzrow, but once again these performances sound sketchy when standing by themselves without the film. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1988 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Michel Legrand, best known as a film composer, has only made occasional jazz records through the years, but most have been quite worthwhile. This reissue CD brings back a real rarity, a trio session with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne that is arguably Legrand's only jazz date from the 1963-1977 period. It is a particularly interesting set, for Legrand takes a rare (if odd) vocal on "My Funny Valentine"; "Los Gatos" is a free improvisation (one of four songs spontaneously composed by the musicians on stage), and the pianist shows that he can swing on "Ray's Riff" and "Another Blues." This underrated set is worth investigating. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 1989 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 1990 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Pop - Released January 1, 1990 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

This release is more than a continution of The Bulgarian Women's Choir performing the present vocal tradition of Bulgaria. Volume 3 combines the extraordinary vocals of The Bulgarian State Radio & TV Choir as featured on Volumes 1 & 2, with the Trakia Choir, the Tolbuhin Choir and Radopi Smolian's Choir. © MusD /TiVo