Francis Lai

A Man and a Woman [Un Homme et une Femme]

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One of the finest soundtrack albums of the 1960s came in 1966, when Francis Lai composed much of the music for Claude Lelouch's French film A Man and a Woman (Un Homme et une Femme in French). Most European films enjoy very little publicity in the U.S., but A Man and a Woman was an exception because the soundtrack was so superb. With this classic LP, Lai and his allies (who include arrangers Maurice Vander and Ivan Julien) brought together French pop, jazz, and the Brazilian bossa nova (which Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stan Getz, and João Gilberto had popularized in the early 1960s). The bossa nova was as hot in Europe as it was in North America, and France's interest in Brazilian music is underscored by sensuous, caressing Lai offerings like "Aujourd'hui C'est Toi" and the famous title song -- all of which feature French vocalists Nicole Croisille and/or Pierre Barouh. While Lai composed most of the melodies, Barouh provided the French lyrics -- including some lyrics that he wrote for Brazilian composer Baden Powell's "Samba Saravah." Barouh has a soft, gentle quality to his voice, and he frequently brings to mind another gentle singer: João Gilberto. A five-star collection of mood music, this soundtrack has held up extremely well over the years.