Saturday 26 January 2019

Michel Legrand (1932-2019)

Cover of the 1979 album Le Jazz Grand

I love the creations of ‘old school’ film composers and Michel Legrand was one of the very best. His compositional talents ranged from the neo-Baroque soundtrack to a period film entitled The Go-Between (1971) to the orchestral Jazz infused soundtrack to Steve McQueen’s racing epic Le Mans from the same year.

He was an accomplished Jazz artist and his collaborations with Miles Davis attest to the high regard in which he was held.

He did have his setbacks. His score for the 1976 film Robin and Marian was rejected by the film’s producers who later assigned the task to John Barry.

Like Charles Aznavour, he was a Frenchman of Armenian descent, and very proud of this, once remarking: “Armenian music flows in my blood.”

He’ll perhaps best be known as the composer of the song “Windmills of Your Mind” which was part of the soundtrack that he composed for The Thomas Crown Affair (1968).

I only discovered a few years ago that he sang “Les Moulins de Mon Coeur”, a version of the song made famous by Noel Harrison, in a balladic, chanson-style. I had no idea that this magnificent composer, arranger, conductor, and jazz pianist was also an accomplished chanteur.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2019)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

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