Jeff Macauley: Le Grand Tour—The Music of Michel Legrand

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Jeff Macauley

Le Grand Tour—The Music of Michel Legrand

53 Above, NYC, April 17, 2019

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Jeff Macauley
Photo: Stephen Hanks

With songs, some reminiscing, and the perfect amount of research, Jeff Macauley painted an ornate portrait of the life of prolific composer Michel Legrand. In doing so, Macauley’s show followed the pattern of the more classic styles of cabaret: profiling a songwriter. For over an hour and a half, he took the opportunity to discuss what made Legrand spectacular and to sing his favorites from one of the more monumental repertoires. Legrand was a composer who worked on quite a number of movies, resulting in incredible success, including Oscar, Golden Globe, and Grammy Awards.

In tribute to the late, great Legrand, Macauley took selections from classic as The Thomas Crown Affair. Of all of Macauley’s stories, one of the most interesting was about Legrand’s impact on that movie. Apparently, given five hours of uncut film, he went away for six weeks and wrote music to the parts of the film he liked, and the director and editor cut the film to fit his music.
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Two of my favorites of the night came from lesser-known movies, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort. The two seemed to embody the more artistic side of film making and their romantic explorations of whimsical music described a vibrant world filled with discovery.

In Umbrellas’ “I Will Wait for You” (lyrics: Norman Gimbel), the lyric “If it takes forever, I will what for you/for a thousand summers, I will wait for you” buries itself along with the melody into your mind. The recurrent theme of summer appears often in Legrand’s work, usually referring to happier times as in “Once Upon a Summertime” (Johnny Mercer). In “To Love” from Rochefort (Julian More/Earl Brown), summer has gone and needs to be wooed back: “But to relive one summer’s day when winter clouds have blown your way.” Most interestingly, however, this movie is best known for “You Must Believe in Spring” (Alan and Marilyn Bergman), another song that Macauley covered well.
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Arrangements were handled by music director and pianist Tex Arnold, who was joined by Jon Burr on bass.

Macauley and the duo also showcased selections from Pieces of Dreams, Best Friends, The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart, The Picasso Summer, The Summer of ’42, and The Happy Ending. Macauley represented Legrand well, his music being a happy ending to our day.

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see