Michel Legrand Tuesday Museday Marc Louis-Boyard

Michel Legrand – TUESDAY MUSEDAY

Michel Legrand (1932 – 2019) is one of the most respected composers in the history of modern music, alongside Igor Stravinsky, Frank Zappa and Quincy Jones.

After having benefited from the tutelage of the famously severe Nadia Boulanger, Michel Legrand composed thousands of pieces and songs for various industries.

His legacy is still influencing the whole world, from the cinema studios of California to Paris to New York’s most whisky-fueled jazz clubs. 

Michel Legrand, a humble workaholic

So I write melodies – thirty, forty, fifty – then I cast them off until I have just two or three. If only one is needed, I go see the director and ask him to decide.

– Michel Legrand

Thanks to his strong academic musicianship, Michel Legrand knew what he wanted, and when he wanted it. Hundreds of all-nighters were spent writing, experimenting and recording to the service of his intentions, but in the limits of what his ever growing list of clients really wanted.

Ironically enough, Michel Legrand lost track of time when it came to satisfying in order to reinforce his reputation. This demonstrates the beauty of bringing one’s talent to one’s direction, both in respect of the other.

Michel Legrand, the anti-snob

I would listen to something on the radio and try to tap out the melody, then the harmonies.

– Michel Legrand

Academia never drove Michel Legrand away from the public. Beauty and ambition were key to his success, but unlike most music snobs one can find in the jazz world, Michel Legrand nourished his inspiration and skills by any means necessary. 

Michel Legrand’s lifetime achievement proved that competence and perseverance could relatively easily shut purists up. Furthermore, who established that music had to be strictly sophisticated and bourgeois ? Not Michel Legrand.

Michel Legrand, the spirit of sharing

I have a very strange melodic gift: melodies come to me effortlessly.

– Michel Legrand

Despite his growing taste and enjoyment for large ensembles, Michel Legrand stayed close to the “underground” scene. This fact if beautifully illustrated by Legrand’s “Live at Jimmy’s” (more info here), an unedited, playful and energetic live performance.

Humor, experimentation, musical mastery: this live album epitomizes who Michel Legrand really was, and what was the way he lived his music. 

Michel Legrand’s uncompromising expression will live on forever. Long live to the king!

Written by Marc Louis-Boyard for Slow Culture.

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