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Pianist, composer Francy Boland dies at 75

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GENEVA - Belgian jazz pianist and composer Francy Boland died in Geneva, aged 75, a statement from the Jazz Labo society of Fribourg said.

Born in Namur on November 6, 1929, Boland began learning piano at the age of eight and studied at the Music Conservatory in Liege. He began his jazz career in 1949 and joined Chet Baker's quintet in 1955.

Moving to the United States, Boland wrote arrangements for Count Basie and Benny Goodman and formed an octet with drummer Kenny Clarke.

Back in Europe, he teamed up with Clarke again in 1962 to form the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland big band, which lasted for 11 years and included top European musicians like Ronnie Scott and Tony Coe, plus a number of Americans living in Europe such as Art Farmer and Herb Geller.

Some of Boland's compositions became jazz standard, notably “Sax no End".

In 1984 he was commissioned to set poems written by the late pope John Paul II to music for a television program.

“Jazz has lost one of the most prestigious arrangers and band leaders in its history, to be ranked with the geniuses Duke Ellington and Woody Herman," Jazz Labo enthused.

-- AFP

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