Claude Bolling, Jazzman With Crossover Appeal, Dies at 90

By | January 9, 2021
Claude Bolling, Jazzman With Crossover Appeal, Dies at 90

Claude Bolling, Jazzman With Crossover Enchantment, Dies at 90

Claude Bolling, a jazz pianist and composer with outstanding crossover attraction whose 1975 album, “Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano,” spent greater than 10 years on the Billboard classical album chart, died on Dec. 29 in Garches, a suburb of Paris. He was 90.

His demise was introduced on his web site, which gave no additional particulars.

Mr. Bolling performed and composed in quite a lot of types — the Claude Bolling Large Band performed often for years on the Méridien Etoile lodge in Paris — and wrote the scores for dozens of films and tv exhibits in each France and Hollywood. However “Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano,” written for and recorded with the famed classical flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, elevated him to a brand new degree of fame.

Though the document drew criticism from each classical and jazz purists as, within the phrases of 1 article, “watered-down jazz with a skinny classical veneer,” the listening public liked it. Information accounts from the mid-Nineteen Eighties, noting that it was nonetheless on the charts after a decade, mentioned solely the Pink Floyd album “The Darkish Facet of the Moon,” launched in 1973, had achieved such longevity at that time. (“Darkish Facet” remained on the High 200 album chart till 1988 and has periodically returned.)

Mr. Bolling was impressed to pursue different crossover tasks, together with the 1980 album “Picnic Suite,” recorded with Mr. Rampal and the guitarist Alexandre Lagoya. A picture on Mr. Bolling’s web site exhibits the Billboard classical album chart from Sept. 4, 1982. “Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano,” in its 343rd week on the chart, sits at No. 5, with “Picnic Suite” at No. 22, his “Toot Suite for Trumpet and Jazz Piano” at No. 27, his “Concerto for Classical Guitar and Jazz Piano” at No. 30 and his “Unique Boogie Woogie” at No. 39.

“Claude’s music was so vastly interesting,” the flutist Pamela Sklar, who toured with Mr. Bolling for 11 seasons, mentioned by e mail, “as a result of it distilled attributes of refined classical and esoteric jazz types into accessible palettes of happiness, pleasure, innocence, pathos, playfulness and sincerity.”

Ms. Sklar interviewed Mr. Bolling in 2010 for an article in Flute Quarterly. He recalled how the success of the 1975 album had modified his fortunes.

“Right now, after I considered a live performance within the U.S., I might solely think about one thing in a bit jazz membership in small-town America,” he informed her. “Because of Jean-Pierre Rampal and this ‘Suite,’ my first live performance was at Carnegie Corridor!”

Mr. Bolling was born on April 10, 1930, in Cannes, France, in a lodge the place his father was the supervisor. His mom performed piano, and he proved to be a prodigy. He spent most of his life in Paris, however in World Struggle II, in the course of the occupation, his mom took him to stay in Good.

“Throughout World Struggle II, after I was a child, jazz was all however banned by the Nazis in my nation,” he informed The Hartford Courant in 1991. “So I received most of my jazz from 78 r.p.m. recordings.”

At 14, he received an beginner jazz piano contest. At 15, returning to Paris on the finish of the conflict, he turned the youngest member of the French Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music.

He performed with numerous jazz stars who got here via Paris and likewise had his personal septet. He notably admired Duke Ellington, and in 1956 he fashioned an enormous band to play Ellington’s music. Within the Nineteen Sixties, the 2 would meet and turn into associates.

“Among the many classes I discovered from Ellington,” Mr. Bolling mentioned in 1991, “is that you just write particularly for the character of the instrumental soloists.”

It was a philosophy he employed when Mr. Rampal, who had been impressed with a chunk that Mr. Bolling had written for and carried out with the classical pianist Jean-Bernard Pommier on French tv, requested whether or not Mr. Bolling would write one thing for him.

“I wrote ‘Suite for Flute’ for Jean-Pierre,’” Mr. Bolling mentioned. “Had I written it for an additional, it will be fully completely different. Every musician has his personal voice, and I write for that.”

Mr. Rampal died in 2000.

Ms. Sklar described the attraction of enjoying the well-known suite.

“The ‘Suite’s’ seven-movement flute half was expertly written and pleasant to play with piano, and particularly with bass and drums,” she mentioned. “That’s one of many the explanation why many classical flutists wish to play it; it’s very jazzy, and improvisation is optionally available. I liked that it additionally included bass flute and alto flute.”

The critic Allan Kozinn, writing in 1982 in Gadget Clock, described the components that Mr. Bolling created that had labored so nicely within the suite and in his later works.

“In his crossover items,” he wrote, “Mr. Bolling’s compositional technique entails giving his classical soloist a through-composed half, written in a mode replete with Baroque and classical gestures and allusions to the featured instrument’s repertory and idiomatic makes use of, whereas his personal piano, bass and percussion trio interacts with a light-weight jazz counterpoint.”

Mr. Bolling made quite a few recordings and carried out extensively in France, the US and elsewhere.

“One of the crucial endearing issues about him was his love of music, and his partaking, magnetic character onstage,” Ms. Sklar mentioned. “He liked speaking to his audiences and thanking them with encores, which they loved. Typically the encores would proceed for a very long time. Watching from backstage, we might surprise in the event that they’d ever cease!”

The Related Press mentioned that Mr. Bolling’s spouse of 48 years, Irène Dervize-Sadyker, died in 2017 and that the couple had two sons, David and Alexandre.

Mr. Bolling’s compositions have been generally described as “combining” jazz and classical music, however he had a distinct view.

“I don’t just like the phrase ‘mixture,’” he mentioned in 1982 in an interview for The Syracuse New Occasions. “That is merely a dialogue between two sorts of music. I’ve made nothing new. This has been occurring for a very long time.”

Mr. Bolling preferred to have enjoyable on the highway. At eating places, he would typically display a selected trick: putting one piece of silverware over one other, then hanging the one in such a means that it flipped the opposite into his wine or water glass.

“It was funnier when he missed,” Ms. Sklar wrote in Flute Quarterly, “and he didn’t quit simply.”

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