Umbrellas and Sunshine
Roger Davidson and David Finck
2011 / Soundbrush Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Umbrellas and Sunshine is a captivating collection of twelve of Michel Legrand’s pieces arranged and performed on piano and bass by Roger Davidson and David Finck. Many of the songs are Legrand’s most famous, played in an elegant style and paced at a relaxed, easy tempo. The rhythms and harmonies are rich and honor Legrand’s original melodies while providing a fresh new take on some the composer’s best music to date. Davidson shares Legrand’s French heritage and feels a true kinship with him and his passionate approach to composing memorable, deeply-felt songs. Davidson also shares a voracious curiosity about music and has ventured into many diverse genres that include tango, Brazillian, and klezmer as well as symphonic and choral. David Finck has collaborated with Davidson on many other projects, and the two present a seamless unity as a duo. Finck’s occasional solos are evocative and beautiful.
Umbrellas and Sunshine opens with “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg” (“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”), which is better known in the US as “I Will Wait For You.” Upbeat and optimistic, the artists set the mood of the album with one of Legrand’s masterpieces. “La Valse Des Lilas” (“Waltz of the Lilacs”) is smooth, graceful, and full of longing. Finck has a couple of wonderful solos, playing his bass pizzicato. Although the title of “Les Enfants Qui Pleurent” (“The Children Who Cry”) seems heartbreakingly sad, this lively piece gently dances for joy. “The Summer Knows,” the theme from The Summer of ’42, is one of the most beautiful songs ever written and has been performed and recorded countless times over the years. Davidson and Finck make it their own, conveying an unforgettable depth of emotion. Finck’s bass solo is amazing! “Watch What Happens” has become a jazz standard, and this arrangement is rhythmic and carefree. Another favorite is the medley of “The Easy Way” and “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life?” Pairing one of Legrand’s lesser-known songs with one of his most popular adds a bit of a surprise while creating an emotional powerhouse. “You Must Believe in Spring” is a graceful ballad that flows from the heart. “Look” is another beautiful but lesser-known song that Davidson captured as a tender piano solo in one take. “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” is Legrand’s most recent “hit.” Frequently performed and recorded, Davidson and Finck again make it their own with deep expression and tangible emotion. The closing track is a reprise of “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” recorded as a piano solo when Roger Davidson didn’t know he was being recorded. More poignant than the opening version, it’s a superlative ending to a fantastic album.
I have to admit that Michel Legrand has always been one of my favorite songwriters, and I truly think this is the best collection of his work that I’ve heard. It is available from [www.rogerdavidsonmusic.com], Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very enthusiastically recommended!
May 6, 2011