Lalo Schifrin

I bet $100 dollars you did not know that some of the 1970’s classic movies theme scores from internationally famous films was composed by an Argentinian. Three of his most widely known tunes are the classic 1970’s Jaws, James Bond and Mission Impossible theme songs. The name of this incredibly talented artist is Lalo Schifrin. He has composed over 100 movie scores during his lifetime in addition to several albums that reflect his eclectic interests in music and history. He is famous for being able to blend the sound of the big orchestra with that of improvisational jazz. Every song is carefully crafted to transport the listener through time and space. He can tell a story by solely using a melody. I had the privilege of seeing him live at the Blue Note in Manhattan in 2006. It was truly a remarkable experience. He was playing with a very small band, and while I was relatively unfamiliar with his work, I could not help but feeling in awe of his incredible talent.

Lalo was a child prodigy, son of Argentina’s most famous violinists. He was accepted at the Paris music conservatory in 1951 at the age of 19. He later decided to move to the US and landed in NY after finishing his studies. His musical career expands across 6 decades and his output is equivalent to that of 3 different musician careers. He has played with John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and the list goes on and on. His very first album, “La Gillespiana” sold over 1 MM records. Although I could only list a few of his greatest compositions, I encourage you to explore his full collection. It is a wonderful world to get lost in during a rainy afternoon. Tune your Spotify to Lalo Schifrin and prepare to travel the world in tunes.

Below are some of my top picks of his lesser known work. Enjoy!

Jaws (1976)

Here is an extended commercial version released in 1976. Truly a spectacular arrangement that features the big band orchestra mixed with hints of the first experimentation with electronic music. Enjoy!

Bossa Antique

This is from his album “Marquis de Sade”. The Dissection and Reconstruction of Music from the Past as Performed by the Inmates of Lalo Schifrin’s Demented Ensemble as a Tribute to the Memory of the Marquis De Sade. This piece displays hints of Brazilian Bossa nova mixed with improvisational Jazz and a hint of medieval secular music. I don’t know how he manages to mix such distinct sounds into such a naturally flowing composition.

The Blues for Johann Sebastian

This song is from the same album “Marquis de Sade”, featuring flutes and big jazz band sound from the 50’s while also injecting classical and medieval hints. Truly amazing blend.

Bossa Nova- New Brazilian Jazz

This song is much older than the Bossa Nova from Marquis de Sade. Corresponds to work he has done with Dizzy Gillespie and other NY Latin composers in the 1960’s.

Jazz Meets the Symphony


From his album “Letters from Argentina” released in 2006. Here he blends tango, jazz, classical and that big orchestra sound in one beautifully executed piece. The end of the song features a violin solo of two instruments having a conversation. This section is probably honoring his parents. Enjoy!

Latin Jazz Suite album (live in Germany)

Below is a partial list of movie scores he has composed: (listen here)

  • The Exorcist (1973)
  • Most Wanted (1977)
  • Amytiville Frenzy (1979)
  • Enter the Dragon (1973)
  • Bullitt
  • Starsky and Hutch
  • Joy House
  • Che- The True Story of Che Guevara
  • Magnum Force
  • Rush Hour (1998)
  • Planet of the Apes (Original Television Series)

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