Of those very few individuals who have worked with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, and Count Basie, there is but one who has written more than 100 musical scores for film and television, garnering four Grammy awards-out of over 20 nominations-and six Oscar nominations. The titles of his film scores are part of a canon of brilliant soundtracks that have redefined the way we look at film music, and everyone from film enthusiasts to collectors to hip-hop DJs (who often sample his work in songs) eagerly awaits his latest work.
Born and raised in Argentina, Lalo Schifrin is one of the most versatile composers working today. As a pianist, composer, and conductor, he is equally at home conducting a symphony, scoring a film, or creating works for the London Philharmonic. Classically trained at an early age by his father, Schifrin attended the Paris Conservatory, where his double life had him studying during the week and jamming with Europe's hottest jazz players on weekends. When legendary trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie, heard Schifrin play, Gillespie brought him to New York to be his pianist and arranger. There, Schifrin performed with some of the greatest entertainers of the 20th Century. Schifrin's music is "a synthesis of traditional and 20th Century techniques." His early love for jazz and rhythm is evident in his style, and "works such as Invocations, Pulsations, and La Nouvelle Orleans are examples of his tendency to juxtapose universal thoughts with a kind of elaborate primitivism."
Schifrin's scores for film and television are eclectic, original, and inspiring-continuing to affect the evolution of music composition with each new picture. Among his credits are the infectious theme for Mission Impossible, the classically-jazzed Bullitt and Dirty Harry, the effervescent rhythms of Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2, and the smooth tempo of Cool Hand Luke, which garnered him the first of six Oscar nominations. As a conductor, Schifrin can boast about not only credits with prestigious Philharmonics in London, Vienna, Los Angeles, Israel, and Mexico, among others but also for writing the concert that found the Three Tenors performing together for the first time—leading Schifrin to become their principal arranger. Two of Schifrin's highest honors have been his appointment to "Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres,"—one of the highest distinctions granted by France's Minister of Culture—and as Advisor to the President in Cultural Affairs of Argentina, where he was given the rank of Secretary of the Cabinet. Among other honors are the BMI Lifetime Achievement Award, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and his appointment to Music Director of the Los Angeles Latin Jazz Institute.
Lalo Schifrin has forged his unique musical signature through the years. Through his striking combinations of combustible jazz, eloquent symphonic passages, and hard-driving action music, he has ensured his popularity with generations of listeners and has guaranteed himself a high position in the film composer pantheon. Please join Cinequest as we honor this maverick genius. - Mike Rabehl