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Topic: A tribute to my friend Michel Colombier

  1. #1

    A tribute to my friend Michel Colombier

    I said farewell today to one of my heroes.

    The great composer and musician Michel Colombier passed away on Sunday after an intense battle with cancer.

    I was unbelievably privileged to know him as a dear friend, a colleague and as a mentor to me. He influenced me in many profound ways, and was a constant source of inspiration and example of the highest level of creativity and excellence. His enthusiasm for all that life had to offer was contagious to everyone that knew him. I felt very lucky to have had him in my life and to work with him for the past 20 years. He made a big impact on everyone he touched and I will miss him terribly.

    Although he was highly respected by those who knew his work and had received some measure of acclaim, he never really received the true level of recognition he deserved...as one of the the truly great composers of our era. There are a number of reasons for this: for one, he was so versatile and so good in so many areas that it was very difficult to easily classify him...he was always confounding the expectations of those looking to put him in a "box". I remember him being disqualified for an Oscar nomination for the Deep Cover score, simply because he had so seamlessly merged the songs and the score so that the academy couldn't figure out where the songs ended and the score began! Another reason was that he often did incredible music for projects that quite honestly weren't worthy of his gift (His excellent score for Madonna's universally reviled "Swept Away" film is a classic example, and there are many more...). But amazingly, he always gave his all....whether it was a high profile success or something that few would ever see or hear. (Some of my favorite projects were ones that were never released or heard by the public)

    He was constantly pushing the creative envelope and discovering new things about music. He was also a remarkable communicator and could effortlessly work with literally any kind of musician....from The Kronos Quartet to Tone Loc, from Jaco Pastorius to Petula Clark, from Prince and Fatboy Slim to Twyla Tharp and Mikail Barishnakov...the list goes on and on.

    I've never met anyone like him.

    The greatest way to truly understand Michel is to hear and appreciate his music. His music really does express his spirit and approach to life, and that's what I want to share with you guys.

    Michel had an unbelievably wide range of musical experiences in a unique career which spanned from the 60's in France to the present day in Los Angeles. I've taken the liberty of compiling a list of links to excerpts from a few of my favorite Michel pieces and making some notes about some of the projects so that you can know him a little better. Please give them a listen and be sure to visit his wonderful website too:


    I love this piece from the unreleased Midnight Cabaret score. I was lucky enough to watch him perform it for the score....what an incredible pianist he was!

    Haunting and timeless melodies:

    From his incredible Wings album from 1970

    The same "Emmanuel" piece again, but on this version I got the opportunity to be part of a new version on synths with Michel in the 80s with the legendary Toots Theilman on Harmonica

    These are from some of his early French films...more amazing melodies

    And a more recent piece that has his trademark progressions:

    Michel was known in France as the "Godfather of Fusion"...it's easy to see why! These are from one of Michel early solo albums featuring the one and only Jaco Pastorius and many other legendary musicians from the 70s

    More Jazz from Michel

    How about this one for Classic 60's? This one cracks me up every time I hear it and reminds me of how joyful Michel was!

    This was a crazy psychedelic rock radio hit he did in France with a Musique Concrete guy named Pierre Henry, who did all the nutty sound FX. (Check out the retro Chimes melody on this one!) This was discovered again recently by William Orbit and Fatboy Slim, made a whole remix collection from this wild track!

    This is another one that really captures Michel's funky, playful side:

    I loved discovering this one, just because it is so French!

    Michel always blew me away with how creative and unconventional he was with the sounds I made for him. Here's an example of an entire modern dance routine he create with only a single "brass hit" sample!

    After the success of "Purple Rain" and "New Jack City" films, in the last ten years Michel got a reputation for being "the urban film composer".
    One of the funniest things I remember about working with Michel on these projects was a bunch of times when the stunned producers and directors would come in, and realize that Michel was actually a white guy! He quickly became known as "The Funky Frenchman" in the black film industry. :-)

    He had serious soul:

    This piece was from the awesome Midnight Cabaret score that was only heard by a few of us who worked on it. It was right after Michel got the D-50 and we started to work together....it totally blew me away how he so seamlessly merged the synth with the real Choir and Strings:

    These are from one of my favorite scores he did for "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" I loved working on this one and the score was so emotional:

    This piece was one of my favorite first film projects that I got to work on with Michel that features a wonderful Ernie Watts sax solo...soaring and mournful

    Here's the ballad side of Michel from the Purple Rain score:

    Michel loved the works of many 20th Century composers, and that was a side that he often showed in his film and ballet music

    Check out this awesome Brazilian track from his 60s era:

    Michel was very comfortable working in totally electronic settings too, as evidenced here on the recent European "Largo Winch" Thiller TV theme:

    I'll never forget the time Michel asked me to create an orchestra for him using the following sounds:

    Mosquitos for Violins, Wolves for French Horns, and Rollercoaster screams for percussion! It was for a film that was never released called "Midnight Cabaret", that featured one of his most innovative scores. It was done with only a primitive Akai sampler and a Juno 60

    I could go on and on....he created thousands of works. Hopefully, they will be released and more widely available. His music will certainly live on forever.

    I just wanted to let you guys know a little about a very special person in my life, that had a big impact on me both musically and personally. I will miss him greatly.

    -Eric Persing (aka spectrum)

  2. #2

    Unhappy Re: A tribute to my friend Michel Colombier

    I am very sad to hear this Eric .
    I am listening to Stella's dream now and it's a beautiful song.
    Theo Krueger - Composer


    Kontakt 2 Scripts

  3. #3

    Re: A tribute to my friend Michel Colombier

    He wrote some very touching, intimate music. A guy who understood that a well written melody is worth its weight in gold. Sorry to hear the news and reading through his website its amazing to see just how many top artists he worked with. I knew about Prince and his pop collaborations, but I had no idea he was so versatile as to pen the score for Ruthless People one day and a contemporary ballet the next.
    Trev Parks

  4. #4

    Re: A tribute to my friend Michel Colombier

    Sorry to hear of your loss Eric. Thanks for posting those links to some of Michel's work. I knew very lttle of his music, so thanks for the introduction to some wonderful compositions.


  5. #5

    Re: A tribute to my friend Michel Colombier

    This is very sad news indeed.

    Michel was one of the most talented composers around, a very gifted individual; one needs only to listen to his album ‘Wings’ or ‘Sunday’, where he recorded his music with some of the best musicians on the planet. He was one of my most favourite composers.

    May God give peace to his soul and give comfort to those who loved him

  6. #6

    Unhappy Re: A tribute to my friend Michel Colombier

    Hi Eric,

    I am very sorry to hear of your loss of a dear friend and mentor. You have certainly paid him a great respect by honouring his memory and his accomplishments. Truly a sad loss of someone who was very unique and talented. May he rest in peace.


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