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Grete Merrem-Nikisch

After first winning world-acclaim as a jazz performer, pianist-arranger and conductor Claude Bolling wrote music for films and backed Brigitte Bardot, Sacha Distel, Juliette Greco and other vocalists in commercial recording sessions. Later still, however, he was to win even greater renown for some ingenious semi-classical jazz essays in cross-over. Born in Cannes, Southern France, on 10th April 1930 he has spent the greater part of his life in Paris where, as a child prodigy, his formative musical influences were many and varied. After a broad initial training with the pianist, trumpeter and percussionist Marie-Louise Bob Colin in Nice, where he lived during the years of the Occupation, he discovered his passion for jazz while still at school. Strongly drawn towards ragtime and (on records) the great early exponents of jazz piano, he was particularly inspired by the stride style of Fats Waller. By 1944 he was already active semi-professionally in small groups and the following year, in Paris, won an amateur jazz competition, organised by Jazz Jot and the Hot Club de France.

Given his inordinate talent and avid interest, Bollings progress as a jazzman was sure and rapid. His youthful heroes Earl Hines and Willie The Lion Smith were among his private tutors, while Erroll Garner was a prominent first-hand live influence, and in 1946, aged sixteen, he set up Les Parisiennes, an Ellingtonesque small group whose repertoire veered between New Orleans revival, ragtime and bebop. By



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