“60 years of faithful friendship, joie de vivre, funny songs and a carefree bond.” This is how Brigitte Bardot described her relationship with the jazz composer, pianist and conductor Claude Bolling who died near Paris on December 29, 2020. He was 90 years old.
Bardot is just one of the many performers that worked with Bolling through his career, including Louis Armstrong, Boris Vian and Miles Davis. Bardot had a hit with the end-of-summer ballad “la Madrague” in 1968.
From Bolling to Bollington
Claude Bolling was born in Cannes in April, 1930. During the occupation, he moved to Nice, where he studied under of Marie-Louise “Bob” Colin, pianist, trumpeter and drummer in one of the many popular female orchestras in between the wars. Seeing his potential, she encouraged him to move to Paris at the age of 16, where he made his first recording at the age of 18.
Bolling was a huge fan of Duke Ellington, and led his own big band until the 2010s, as well as several jazz outfits. The French writer and jazzman Boris Vian once called him “Bollington”.
Bolling was also a prolific composer of soundtracks for major French movies, such as “Borsalino” (1970), “Le Magnifique”, “Lucky Luke”, and “Les Brigades du Tigre“. He is also known for the novelty classical hit, “Suite For Flute And Jazz Piano” he recorded with flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal which spent 530 weeks in the Bilboard charts.