“My dream is not to miss out on anything. That’s why I’ve never settled on one musical discipline.” This is how Michel Legrand describes his many-sided career as a composer, conductor, pianist, singer, writer, and producer. From his Paris years as accompanist to Maurice Chevalier to his lifelong successes scoring films in Hollywood, Legrand is continually challenging himself and the traditional boundaries of music. He’ll highlight his jazz side with his trio at our Festival Jazz Club. (Maybe we’ll hear him improvise on his classic, The Windmills of Your Mind…!)
Michel Legrand will be joined by Tom Knific on bass and Keith Hall on drums for these concerts.
Reserved table seating and general admission balcony seating in a jazz club setting. Beverages available for purchase in the lobby.
Please note that tables 1-8 have a partially obstructed view of the stage.
Tearing down the barriers between jazz, classical music and easy listening, Michel Legrand is at home in any musical situation. Michel Legrand was born in 1932 to a musical family in France. When he was ten, he entered the Paris Conservatory, which proved to be an unexpected revelation. “Until then, my childhood had been flat and unhappy,” he relates. “Suddenly, when I joined Lucette Descaves’ music theory class, I discovered a world that belonged to me, people who spoke my language. From then on, I felt that life had something exciting and motivating to offer.”
After studying under the iron rule of Nadia Boulanger, Henri Challan and Noël Gallon for several years, Legrand left the Conservatory with top honors in harmony, piano, fugue and counterpoint. He immediately gravitated to the world of song, working as an accompanist musical director to Maurice Chevalier. At 22, he released his instrumental LP I Love Paris and rose to the top of the US charts. He began composing music for the artists he accompanied and eventually began scoring films, beginning with Les Amants du Tage by Henri Verneuil. He became one of the most important composer of film scores throughout the era of French New Wave cinema, collaborating with Jean-Luc Godard, Agnès Varda, François Reichenbach, and Jacques Demy – his creative alter ego, with whom Legrand invented a new genre of film musical.
Legrand began dividing his time between France and Hollywood, building a composition repertoire with a filmography that included names like Orson Welles, Marcel Carné, Clint Eastwood, Norman Jewison, Louis Malle, Andrezej Wajda, Richard Lester and Claude Lelouch, to name a few. After three Oscar wins, he began to perform his songs himself. Legrand worked on his voice and focused in particular on building up a repertoire with two writers of his choice: Eddy Marnay ( Les Moulins de mon coeur, Quand on s’aime, Les enfants qui pleurent ) and Jean Dréjac ( Comme elle est longue à mourir majeunesse, Oum le Dauphin, L’été ’42 ). He subsequently had the chance to put music to lyrics by Jean-Loup Dubadie, Boris Bergman, Françoise Sagan and Jean Guidoni and, in 1981, he himself wrote the words for his album Attendre, which he also performed and composed.
After more than 50 years of composing, Legrand is more versatile than ever. He is currently completing his 80th Birthday Tour of the World, which has seen him perform concerts in Canada, USA, Oman, Russia, Armenia, UK, France, Switzerland, Ireland, Korea and Japan.
Bassist Tom Knific has performed on tour and on recordings with Gene Bertoncini, Billy Hart, Randy Brecker, Art Farmer, the late Dave Brubeck, Fred Hersch, The Merling Trio, OPUS 21, Philippe Entremont, and others. He and Eric Marienthal co-led the “Dream Band” with Toots Thielemans, Kenny Werner, and Harvey Mason in the first live interactive jazz concert, multi-cast worldwide over the internet.
Knific teaches bass and jazz studies at Western Michigan University. He is the leader of the Western Jazz Quartet, which has performed on five continents, receiving positive reviews for their six CDs of original music. He has presented hundreds of master classes worldwide and performed for several Gilmore Keyboard Festivals, including his most recent appearance with Kevin Cole in 2010.
Knific appears on more than 30 CDs, including four solo recordings. He is a prolific composer, published by ISB Editions in Dallas and Editions Delatour in Paris.
Keith Hall has established himself as a passionate educator and joyful performer. He is the director of the Keith Hall Summer Drum Intensive and is the Jazz Drum Set Professor at Western Michigan University. He is the author of Jazz Drums Now! Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, and is the radio host for Jazz Currents on WMUK. In addition, he currently tours the globe with singer Curtis Stigers and his New York trio TRI-FI.
Keith spent 8 years in New York City where he played drums on Broadway’s ‘Lion King’ and has performed with Betty Carter, Wycliffe Gordon, Sir Roland Hanna, Joe Lovano, Wynton Marsalis, Michael Phillip Mossman, Luciana Souza, Terrell Stafford, Joe Wilder and Steve Wilson. Keith holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in Jazz Studies from Western Michigan University and Queens College in New York. Keith is active in schools around Michigan, as he presents educational programs to students of all ages.