A few minutes before I’m due to press the buzzer on the door of Michel Legrand’s apartment building in Paris, the announcement of Aretha Franklin’s death comes through. He greets the news with a sigh. Many years ago, he remembers, he had a plan to team Aretha with Ray Charles on a new recording of Porgy and Bess, updating the version made by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald in 1958. He sighs again. It would have been wonderful, he says.
His anecdote hardly comes as a surprise. Legrand seems to have worked, at one time or another, with practically every figure of consequence in popular music and film since the end of the second world war,