Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW CD Review: Melissa Errico's LEGRAND AFFAIR DELUXE EDITION Keeps The Magnificent Music Playing

With this Michel Legrand tribute album, Ms. Errico can make any day better.

BWW CD Review: Melissa Errico's LEGRAND AFFAIR DELUXE EDITION Keeps The Magnificent Music PlayingWhen I was a kid I was traveling abroad with my father. One evening, I was flung on my bed in the hotel room we shared, reading a book and listening to the radio; as my father passed from through the room to the side where the desk was, he uttered, "Liza with a Z." Now, I was just a kid and there was a lot I didn't know, but I certainly knew that the song on the radio was not the song Liza With a Z, so I told my father that he was wrong. "No, honey," he replied, "That's Liza Minnelli singing." I was shocked. My father didn't listen to Liza Minnelli - he listened to Buck Owens, he listened to Roy Clark, he listened to Flatt & Scruggs. How did he know that was Liza Minnelli singing when I hadn't even recognized that it was her? That was the moment that pre-teen me realized that there are singers in the world whose voices are so distinctive and so unique that anyone would recognize that voice playing on the radio - even if they, themselves, did not listen to that voice in their own recreational life.

During the first sentence sung on the album of LEGRAND AFFAIR THE SONGS OF Michel Legrand DELUXE EDITION, it dawns on you that Melissa Errico is just such an artist, a woman with a voice so individual, so recognizable, that if you heard her singing on the radio, in the market, at a party, in a taxi cab, you would say to yourself "That's a Melissa Errico song." There is no such thing as a Melissa Errico recording that isn't beautiful because this is one of the true beauties of music - a voice so pure, so refined, so natural and sweet as to turn every melody into a symphony.

And Legrand Affair Deluxe Edition is a symphony. And then some.

BWW CD Review: Melissa Errico's LEGRAND AFFAIR DELUXE EDITION Keeps The Magnificent Music PlayingIt is important to make the distinction that this 2019 cd is a follow up to Errico's 2011 album Legrand Affair The Songs of Michel Legrand, a fifteen song, one hour, six-minute-long thing o' beauty (and if you want to talk beauty, take a look at the original cd's cover, one of the best ever). The updated version is a gift to fans of Legrand, Erricophiles, and lovers of great music, clocking in at two hours, two minutes, and twenty-seven tracks. It's an orgy of audible delectation so lush and replete that this writer had to break it down into two listenings, ending Act One where the original record stopped and picking up Act Two with all of the new material. Whether the listener chooses to make the CD into a two-part journey or play it straight through from start to finish will be a personal choice but the truth is, it wouldn't matter if you set the player to shuffle or if you put your favorite tunes into a playlist - any way you arrange it, LEGRAND AFFAIR DELUXE EDITION is going to come out perfect, like the souffle you worried would drop or the impeccable bow atop an immaculately wrapped gift. Legrand Affair is, in simplest terms, a perfect musical experience.

Melissa Errico developed her reputation as one of the foremost interpreters of Michel Legrand's music through years of devoted friendship with the Maestro, discovering his points of view in his work and learning, first hand, where her perspectives about his music met his, and how they melded together. It is a blessing to have a popular singer like Errico to carry on the Legrand legacy because there are people young and old who have either never heard of Legrand or who had forgotten his iconic canon of music. Thanks to Melissa, her CDs, and her shows, the Maestro's music will keep playing for a long time to come; this album will be a big part of it because no expense was spared in the effort to capture, fully, the scope of Legrand's music. No mere documentation made by a singer and a piano is this cd - here, the audience is treated to a full orchestra so lush, so replete that the experience of listening to the music becomes like a daydream, a fantasy to carry your mind to places gratifying and satisfying. Errico herself is as one of the orchestra members, paying homage to Legrand by singing the notes precisely as he has written them. In a world where singers are compelled to, indeed obsessed by, riffs, pyrotechnics, and vocal gymnastics, Melissa Errico is audacious enough to trust Legrand's composition and her own voice to do the work, and it is one of the major components that comprise the overwhelming success and artistry of the recording.

Be warned, dear readers, that Legrand Affair Deluxe Edition is ballad-heavy. Usually, this writer finds an album consisting only of ballads to be a bit of a bore but that is not the case with this one because of the consummate musical artistry and spectacular storytelling, to say nothing of the respect and reverence shown by all who worked to immaculately document Legrand's canon. Among the ballads, fans will find the most famous songs by Legrand, compositions like "The Summer Knows" and "The Windmills of Your Mind" - without them, the recording would be incomplete - but this writer was especially besotted by Errico's controlled and contained (and slightly coy) "His Eyes, Her Eyes" and her optimistic, opulent "You Must Believe In Spring", songs some may recognize but that others will be discovering for the first time, lucky them. With the start of track eleven, though, listeners can count on a section of the recording that feels like a little song-cycle of joy - bright, upbeat, hopeful, and full of love. Here can be found some of the uptempo recordings - it's an especially enjoyable corner to turn on the album, one that leads straight into the material that puts the Deluxe into the album.

The new tracks on the CD are the kind of lost materials that singers find in drawers and use to create special recordings for their fans: there are demos Melissa sang with Legrand at the piano, living room recordings between the muse and the Maestro that feature Legrand giving instruction, singing along with Errico, and showing just how his own musical gifts fit perfectly with Melissa's, making them a magical pair of collaborators and friends. It's an exciting and uplifting look into the relationship between the muse and the mentor, one that we see represented in movies and tv programs, but that, here, are real and human, and rewardingly human. As sumptuous as the full-orchestra recordings are, these pared-down examples of musical symbiosis will excite listeners in a more personal, more intimate way, especially once bassist David Finck and drummer Steve Gadd get in on the action.

If these nuggets of artistic musical paradise are not enough, there is a notably important cut on the album - the last song Legrand ever composed with his favorite lyricists, The Bergmans, who entrusted the never-before-recorded tune to Ms. Errico. It's almost an embarrassment of riches - but don't be embarrassed by how much you will love this recording: live in it, talk about it, share it with the people you know and the people you love. They'll thank you for it, as we should all thank Melissa Errico for putting on display what she and Legrand shared as friends, colleagues, and artists - a remarkable and noteworthy achievement from any viewpoint. How wonderful that we all get to see it with our ears.

Melissa Errico Legrand Affair Deluxe Edition is a 2019 release on the Ghostlight Records Label and is available on all streaming platforms.

Related Articles View More Cabaret Stories   Shows

From This Author Stephen Mosher