May 28, 2024

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CD review: Nicolas Folmer – Michel Legrand Stories – 2023: Video, CD cover

Nicolas Folmer and Michel Legrand met in 2008.

From this “artistic love at first sight” many shared concerts took place and Michel Legrand gave carte blanche to Nicolas Folmer for the recording of an album on which they share the poster recorded the same year Nicolas Folmer Plays Michel Legrand, 3rd album by Nicolas Folmer.

Fourteen years later, the artist proposes a reappropriation of the universe of Michel Legrand which he crosses with his own, his innovations and the hindsight of his career. This project is his 17th album as a leader or co-leader.

The two composers worked in complicity and it is with this trust and this relationship that he offers this repertoire of covers and original creations. Nicolas Folmer recorded the album So Miles in 2019, acclaimed by critics (Choc Jazz Magazine, Must TSF, Couleur Jazz Hit). This album was written according to the same concept of reappropriation and innovations leaving a field of freedom to the main artist for his interpretation of these works.

“Michel Legrand Stories” is Nicolas Folmer’s second project based on the music of Michel Legrand. Through this opus, the trumpeter, singer and arranger Nicolas Folmer pays tribute to the musical universe of Michel Legrand who passed away in 2019. An elegant album with refined arrangements.

Visual of the album “Michel Legrand Stories” by Nicolas Folmer After meeting in 2008, Nicolas Folmer and Michel Legrand shared many concerts. Michel Legrand then gave Nicolas Folmer carte blanche to record an album. Thus, in 2008, they recorded together the third album of the trumpeter, “Nicolas Folmer Plays Michel Legrand” (Cristal Records) on which Michel Legrand intervenes on piano and vocals on two titles.

In 2023, for his seventeenth album, “Michel Legrand STORIES” (Cristal Records), Nicolas Folmer takes a step back and plunges back into the artistic universe of Michel Legrand (1932-2019).

“Michel Legrand Stories”… a groovy bridge stretched between the musical worlds of Michel Legrand and Nicolas Folmer. With undeniable talent Nicolas Folmer swings the superb melodies of Michel Legrand.

On this album recorded by Michel Casabianca at Studio Besco in Tilly (78) and mastered by Emil Spanyi, Nicolas Folmer wears the hat of arranger, orchestrator and trumpeter and for the first time that of singer.

A string orchestra with brings together Line Kruse, Emma Lee, Jean-Lou Descamps, Caroline Bugala, Emelyne Chirol, Raphaël Maillet (violin), Marion Leray and Flore Lacreuse (viola), Isabelle Sajot and Florence Hennequin (cello),

A big band of musicians from the world of jazz with two drummers, André Ceccarelli and Stéphane Huchard, two bassists, Philippe Bussonnet and Jérémy Bruyère, guitarist Olivier Louvel, three pianists, Emil Spanyi, Vincent Bidal and Laurent Coulondre, saxophonist tenor, flutist and clarinettist Stéphane Guillaume, violist and flutist Lucas Saint-Cricq, trombonist Robinson Khoury and percussionists Michel Casabianca and Andréa Caparros.
Along the tracks

“Michel Legrand Stories”, eight songs and two instrumental titles, nine compositions by Michel Legrand and one by Nicolas Folmer.

Composed by Nicolas Folmer, Michel Legrand and me, opens the album and overflows with musicality. Accompanied by the jazz big band and the string orchestra with chiseled arrangements, Nicolas Folmer’s trumpet asserts itself with great mastery and allows itself flashes without excess of gratuitous virtuosity. He impresses with the purity of his sound and the ease of his playing, which alternates curved lines and long lyrical phrases that are slightly melancholic.

How do you keep the Music Playing? allows you to discover the singer Nicolas Folmer. On a funky tempo, his warm crooner voice adorns the words of Alan and Marilyn Bergman with elegance. The short solo by pianist Emil Spanyi deploys a musical effervescence on this piece composed by Michel Legrand for the film “Best Friends” (1982).

The song of the twins is adorned with an organic, electro and groovy climate far removed from the original version listened to on the soundtrack of the film “Les demoiselles de Rochefort” (1967) by Jacques Demy. The subtle but ample inflections of the trumpet respond to the audacity of the Rhodes and the samples. On words in French by Eddie Marnay, the melancholic voice of Nicolas Folmer then begins Les enfants qui pleurent composed in 1962 by Michel Legrand.

Further on, Nicolas Folmer offers a muted version of What Are You Doing the Rest of your Life written by Michel Legrand for the film “The Happy Ending” (1969) and performed by Barbra Streisand. The emotionally charged voice is carried by the sumptuous arrangements of the orchestra. We fall under the spell of the piano solo then we let ourselves be seduced by the very melodic improvisation of the trumpet.

In the aftermath, trumpet and orchestra happily revitalize Maxence’s song written by Michel Legrand for the film “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort” (1967) by Jacques Demy. On the exposition of You Must Believe in Spring, played on a ballad tempo, the trumpet sculpts its notes, adopts a rather legato style and a phrasing full of assurance and tranquility then the rhythm of the piece accelerates. Carried by the dynamic swing of the rhythm, Nicolas Folmer then launches into a vertiginous and voluble solo. After an exhilarating piano improvisation, the cadence slows down again and the muffled trumpet re-enchants the melody.

Then comes Papa, Can You Hear Me, a song composed in 1983 by Michel Legrand and sung by Barbra Streisand for the music of her film “Yentl”. After a beginning sung in lament mode, Stéphane Guillaume’s tenor develops a very controlled improvisation. His staccato rises to the treble are reminiscent of the playing of Wayne Shorter. The piece then alternates singing and orchestra then the tenor saxophone returns until the end of the title.

The repertoire then offers two versions of Sleeping Beauty, one of the themes written by Michel Legrand for the film “Peau d’âne” (1970) by Jacques Demy. On both versions, we revel in the sweet singing that Nicolas Folmer plays like a crooner on the rather pop arrangements of the orchestra. The trumpet solo then delights with its lyricism and inspiration. Between these two versions of La Belle au Bois Dormant, the ear vibrates with happiness when listening to the title Les Don Juan, for which Claude Nougaro had written the lyrics and which he had recorded in 1962. Nicolas Folmer makes the music swing above a gleaming orchestration.

Some titles are recorded in small, medium and large formation, the two artists being passionate about orchestration.

1. Michel Legrand et moi (03:43)
2. How Do You Keep the Music Playing? (04:12)
3. La chanson des jumelles (03:44)
4. Les enfants qui pleurent (02:49)
5. What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? (05:54)
6. You Must Believe in Spring (06:51)
7. Papa, Can You Hear Me? (06:29)
8. La belle au bois dormant (04:22)
9. Les Don Juan (03:49)
10. La belle au bois dormant (Alternate take) (04:14)

Nicolas Folmer: vocals, trumpet, arrangements
André Ceccarelli: drums
Stephane Huchard: drums
Philippe Bussonnet: bass
Jérémy Bruyère: double bass
Olivier Louvel: guitar
Emil Spanyi: piano, fender rhodes
Vincent Bidal: piano
Laurent Coulondre: piano, fender rhodes
Stéphane Guillaume: tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet
Lucas Saint-Cricq: alto saxophone, flutes
Robinson Khoury: trombone
Michel Casabianca: additional percussion
Andréa Caparros: vocals, additional percussion
Line Kruse, Emma Lee, Jean-Lou Descamps, Caroline Bugala, Emelyne Chirol,

Raphaël Maillet: violin
Marion Leray, Flore Lacreuse: viola
Isabelle Sajot, Florence Hennequin: cello
Mathilde Fevre: horn

Michel Legrand Stories - Nicolas Folmer - Cristal Records

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