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Michel Legrand, composer with a jazz heart

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Tony Vaughn
Tony Vaughn
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Michel Legrand, composer with a jazz heart

Published May 28, 2021

Michel Legrand at L’heure du Concert in 1960Photo: Radio Canada / André Le Cuse

Cinema, song, children’s television, great orchestras … He touched on all this and much more, but he did not miss his greatest love: jazz. Combined with unparalleled boldness, passion and demands, her adaptability made for wonderful encounters. André Lavoy, film critic, tells Jacques Beauchamp why Michel Legrand chose to stay in France despite his international fame.

Michelle Legrand is the son of Raymond Legrand, concert leader Ray Ventura.

Wake up to music by reproducing famous tunes on a disassembled old piano. At the age of ten, he was accepted into the Paris Conservatory.


He was not interested in classical music, he turned more towards diversity and thus accompanies Henri Salvador, Juliette Greco, Maurice Chevalier, Charles Trinet and Jacques Brel.

Michel Legrand singing and playing the piano in front of a bright place in 1965.

Michelle Legrand on Radio Canada in 1965

Radio Canada / André Le Cuse

In 1948, he attended Dizzy Gillespie’s concert and fell in love with jazz.

In 1954 he released his first album that made him known worldwide, I love paris.

« In his address book, he was there […] Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Barbara Streisand, Miles Davis, Ray Charles … when you know people like that, it helps a little. But this selectivity was the Achilles heel. »

André Lavoy, film critic
On stage at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts in Montreal, Michel Legrand and Ginette Reno sing a duet.

Michel Legrand and Jeanette Reno at a concert in Montreal in 1986

Bonobrice / Michael Ponomarev

Legrand thought great

Inviting him to create a more special album, Michelle Legrand brings Gillespie, Miles Davis and Billy Evans together in New York and records Legrand Jazz (1958).

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The 1960s was marked by his association with director Jacques Demi for a new genre musical, Cherbourg umbrellas, And also by moving to Hollywood, motivated by the Academy Award that he earned for his vocal track The Thomas Crown Affair.

Exhausted, he suffers from depression that persuades him to return to Paris.

During this program, André Lavoie also talks about Michel Legrand’s poor reputation with some artists.

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