Columbia Records Stereo 1971 "Sealed" Super Rare
Legrand's score for Le Mans is an extremely pleasing entry into his overall canon of work. A jazz score in every definition, he uses an impressionistic approach to convey the notion of speed. There is a theme "A Face in the Crowd" that weaves throughout the score, lending a degree of cohesion to what could have been seen as simply a jazz album. Rather than "Mickey Mousing" the action sequences, he mobilizes a terrific jazz ensemble including Jean Luc-Ponty, Shelley Manne and Pete Candoli, augmented by a typically carefree string and brass orchestra to create a feeling of untroubled souls whose raison d'tre is "the race". This goes somewhat against the evidence we have, as all the racers, McQueen included, go through the film with faces like stone. In fact he creates a vibe that the film is incapable of doing on its own, and it's to his credit that he brings so much lightness to what is in truth a rather leaden affair.
In the final analysis the score comes over more of a jazz album than a film soundtrack, a little like "Michel Legrand Images of Le Mans", but that's no bad thing. This is Legrand scoring through the action rather than to it. Its an approach that seems to work well for him, and the impressionistic style also works in his, and the films favor.
As a stand alone listen, it's highly engaging, never bores, and demonstrates a composer at the top of his jazz game.
by Steve Saragossi
1. Delaney's Arrival And Memories
2. The Race-First Laps
3. The Shooting Gallery
(Vocal; Gene Morford) tracks 1-3 (side one) tracks 4-6 (side two)
4. Delaney Takes A Break-The Race-Final Laps
5. A Face In The Crowd
Vocal; Peggy Taylor Woodard