Michel Legrand Remembered: Keep the Music Playing

On Friday 20th September, tribute was paid to the era-defining composer, Michel Legrand, with an evening of jazz and cinema classics featuring the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra and special guests.

With James Pearson at the helm, the orchestra was joined by celebrated Alison Moyet, Maria Friedman, Richard Hadfield, Tasmin Little, Melissa Errico, Ian Shaw and Benjamin Legrand, compèred  Jeremy Sams.

A three-time Oscar and five-time Grammy Award winner, Legrand’s unique ear for a memorable tune and his towering skills as a jazz pianist and composer were honoured in powerful arrangements of some of his greatest hits, including The Windmills of Your Mind, Ray Blues, Summer of 42, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Dingo Rock, How Do You Keep the Music Playing and Yentl.

Following Legrand’s death in January, the concert, which was to have been a celebration of his international standing as a jazz musician, became a tribute to his everlasting impact on 20th century music – unforgettable melodies imprinted on the history of jazz, song, and film music.

Beginning his meteoric rise to fame as accompanist to Maurice Chevalier, Legrand went on to be at the forefront of the French new wave, collaborating with Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Demy, with whom he invented a new genre of film music.

Legrand’s association with Ronnie Scott’s went back many years; he frequently appeared at the club with his renowned trio. The Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra’s relationship with Legrand was cemented in 2017 during a four-day residency at Ronnie Scott’s which was an immediate sell-out and received rave reviews.

Legrand held historic sessions with Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Phil Woods and Stéphane Grappelli, and meetings with the big names in classical music (Kiri Te Kanawa, Jessye Norman, Maurice André) and easy listening (Yves Montand, Barbra Streisand, Charles Aznavour). His songs were also sung by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong and Liza Minnelli.