Bolling, who was born on April 10, 1930 in Cannes, Alpes-Maritimes, France– was a child prodigy and began playing piano professionally by the age of 14 with the likes of Lionel Hampton and Roy Eldridge. Bolling greatly assisted in the revival of traditional jazz in the 1960s, befriending greats like Oscar Peterson and citing Duke Ellington as a large influence.
Bolling was also a gifted film composer, writing music for over 100 films, including a 1957 documentary about the Cannes Film Festival as well as many French and Canadian films. Some of his credits include ‘Me and the Forty Year Old Man’ (1965), ‘Borsalino’ (1970), ‘To Catch a Spy’ (1971), ‘Le Magnifique’ (1973), ‘Flic Story’ (1975), ‘Silver Bears’ (1978), ‘California Suite’ (1978), ‘The Awakening’ (1980), ‘Willie & Phil’ (1980), ‘Three Men to Kill’ (1980), ‘The Bay Boy’ (1984), ‘He Died With His Eyes Open’ (1985), ‘Try This One for Size’ (1989) and ‘Chance or Coincidence’ (1998).
As reported by Variety, his songs can also be heard on many American film soundtracks, including 2006’s ‘The Holiday’ starring Cameron Diaz and Jack Black, the 2018 mystery ‘A Simple Favor’ and 2019’s Oscar-winning film ‘Joker.’
However, Bolling is perhaps most well-known for his crossover collaborations with classical musicians, including his 1975 ‘Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio’ with Jean-Pierre Rampal, which remained on the Billboard classical charts for more than a decade and earned him a Grammy nomination.
Over his career, Bolling also collaborated with musicians such as guitarist Alexandre Lagoya, violinist Pinchas Zukerman, trumpeter Maurice Andre and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Variety reported that Bolling’s wife, Irene Dervize-Sadyker, died in 2017. They had two sons together, David and Alexandre.