Claude Bolling, a pianist, a composer, an arranger and
a conductor of jazz, entertainment and film music, is certainly one of the
world's most famous French musician of his generation.
Originally oriented toward drawing, painting and architecture, he was very early
attracted by music, when around the age of 11 or 12, his mother had him take
piano lessons as part of his education. His taste and talent for music probably
comes from his grandmother on his mother's side, who was an excellent amateur
Born in Cannes on April 10, 1930, he has always lived in Paris except for the
Second World War period, when he was in Nice, where he was taught the basis of
his art by his teacher (Marie Louise "Bob" Colin), an extraordinary woman who
played the piano, the trumpet, the drums, and who was a member of one of those
fashionable all girl orchestras.
In 1944-45, as a young boy, Claude Bolling starts performing in public and is
noticed as a jazz prodigy when he wins the annual amateur contest organized by
the Hot Club de France.
At 16, he brings together some talented young musicians, and by the age of 18
starts recording with his first small band (Maxime Saury, Guy de Fatto,
Although he is not admitted at the Conservatoire or at other music schools he
continues to learn with some excellent teachers : Germaine Mounier (classical
piano), Léo Chauliac (jazz piano), Maurice Duruflé (harmony), André Hodeir (counter-point,
After his military service -during which he was part of a military band and grew
a good instrumental knowledge of trombone and percussions- he became quite known
around St Germain des près (Club St Germain, Club du Vieux Colombier,
inauguration of the Club de la Huchette...).
He becomes very active in the jazz world and plays in numerous concerts and
recordings with the greatests : Rex Stewart, Buck Clayton, Lionel Hampton,
Albert Nicholas, Roy Eldridge... His friend, Boris Vian, takes him in the new
large recording studio where he is in charge of the jazz department art
direction and partly of the song writing department. Claude orchestrates Boris
Vian's first songs as an author and a singer and records various themes for the
"Chansons Possibles et Impossibles". The result is of such quality that Claude
becomes "the" fashionable arranger, for Sacha Distel, Jacqueline François,
Juliette Gréco, Henri Salvador, Brigitte Bardot and many others.
Dario Moreno asks him to write the music of a film he is starring in, and
René Clément, after
having asked him to write a play back theme for Stuart Witman in "Le Jour et
l'Heure" (Michel Piccoli, Simone Signoret) offers him to compose the entire
music of the film. It is very favourably received by the audience and the
profession and gives Claude a new opportunity.
He therefore, emcees several famous entertainment TV shows ("Age tendre et Tête
de bois" -the Beatle generation show- the Maritie and Gilbert Carpentier shows,
Jean-Christophe Averty's "Jazz Memories"). Meanwhile, Claude forms an all girl
quartet, "Les Parisiennes", planned for one summer record and which will last
over seven years.
As a result of his experience in various musical branches and of his work with
the greatest classical musicians, Claude creates "Crossover Music" a new genre which mixes for the first time two different languages, "classic" and "jazz",
strictly separated up to then. The "Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio", written for the great flutist
Jean-Pierre Rampal, is one of his most famous
"Suites", all of which act as work of reference in that style.
Claude Bolling has quite an acrobatic schedule to follow in order to succeed in
all his pursuits : jazz (concerts and recordings as piano soloist, with his
small and/or his big band), all-music composing (from songs to neo-classic) as
well as sound tracks for television and films.
Every new recording has been a success. Among the last ones with the Big Jazz
Band, "Black, Brown & Beige", Duke Ellington's suite (of whom he was a
disciple, a friend and a protégé, "First Class" with the jazz violinist
Stephane Grappelli ("Django d'or" 1993, Hot Club de France award), "Cross Over USA" with
the Trio and the classic soloists Patrice and Renaud Fontanarosa, Marielle Nordmann,
Guy Touvron, Eric Franceries ("Victoire de la Musique") and "the
"Victory Concert - Echoes of 1944-45" with the entire Big Band at its best.
Concurrently, Claude Bolling has been a fervent ecologist ever since the 50's
and has helped various organizations for environment and animal protection ; he
is an active member of the "Fondation du Commandant Jacques-Yves Cousteau" from
its founding day, with which he works for the diffusion of the Charter for the
Defence of Future Generations.
Six times Record's Grand Prix - France
Gold Record - USA and Canada / Platinum Record - USA/ Citizen of Honour - Los Angeles
SACEM Gold Medal (Association of Authors, Composers and Editions of Music - France)
Chevalier of the "Ordre National du Mérite"/ Officer of the "Arts et Lettes"/
Chevalier of the "Legion d'Honneur"