The French have had their share of musical stars through the years, and seem to have been especially strong in instrumental pop and light classics, a genre sometimes called Easy Listening. A while back I wrote about Paul Mauriat, and another good example would be his friend and frequent collaborator, Franck Pourcel.
Pourcel was the son of a French Naval musician, and while growing up in Marseille he received a classical education in music, centered on violin. Beginning his career in the early 1930s as a classical violinist, it didn’t take long for the young musician to get distracted. It was the advent of the early jazz age, and he was fascinated by the new sounds he encountered. He was also inspired by French jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli, who would gain fame for his career with guitarist Django Reinhardt.
It didn’t take long for Pourcel to join the jazz revolution, and soon began appearing in various groups, eventually landing in the French Fiddlers. It was a combo that specialized in jazz versions of the classics, and Pourcel began a long-time membership that would eventually see him leading the group. Pourcel also played in or led various other groups — even spending some time in the U.S. — and as his musical career was progressing, also got married and became the father of a baby girl.
By the 1950s his musical efforts were beginning to lead to good record sales, with songs like “Blue Tango” and an instrumental version of the Platters’ “Only You,” which would be Pourcel’s best on the U.S. charts. He continued to find musical success for many years, sometimes performing with his own groups or with friends like Mauriat but also doing a lot of composing and arranging. In addition, he led several world-class orchestras, often returning to his roots in classical music. He died in 2000 at age 87.