Michel Legrand & Stan Getz – Back to Bach
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Featuring compositions and arrangements by film composer and jazz buff Michel Legrand, Stan Getz’s Communications ’72 is one in a long line of strings-and-voices albums the tenor saxophonist recorded.
Starting with a Gunther Schuller-arranged session from 1955, Getz produced some impressive work in this context, with the incredible Eddie Sauter collaboration Focus standing out in particular. And even in the midst of some not-so-incredible backing on a few sets, Getz always comes up with impeccable solo statements.
For his part, Michel Legrand strikes an expert balance here among jazz combo, strings, and chorus, but the frenetic Swingle Singers-style choral parts don’t always come off. While overpowering Getz on the otherwise lovely “Redemption,” the vocal interjections sound too overarching in their mix of avant-garde and straightforward phrasing on “Outhouse Blues” and “Bonjour Tristesse.”
Legrand succeeds elsewhere, though, especially on “Nursery Rhymes for All God’s Children” and “Flight.” And whether the frequent choral parts on Communications ’72 become annoying really comes down to preference, since most of them are tastefully, even provocatively, written.
As usual, Stan Getz makes it all shine with his golden tone and beguiling solo lines. A good title, but primarily recommended for Getz fans.