This allowed him to observe closely the man he considered the master of the guitar right from his early days, in front of whom he always refused to play as a demonstration of respect.
As the only child having a musical ability, he is encouraged to drop school at the age of 13 and help provide for his family by playing banjo in the richest Parisian cafés and brasseries, such as La Coupole, where he was later immortalised by a painter in one of the columns.
Animator Paul Grimault and poet Jacques Prévert would become close friends with him, and adopt the boy, housing him at Grimault’s for many years, from whereon he would bring his musician friends such as Django to meet other more recognised artists, musicians who were making the most innovative European jazz at the time.
His career develops greatly until the second world war, when he is mobilised in Italy, but soon deserts and returns to Paris, a city about which he would write many songs, though he is only naturalised French in 1946.
In 1945 he was already a nationally relevant musician, later being awarded the Prix de l’Académie du Jazz in 1947. He meets chanteurYves Montand and becomes his musician, touring and writing extensively and becoming one of France’s best known. Until Montand takes a pause in 1954, which is when mostly self-taught Henri Crolla begins composing for short films and documentaries with André Hodeir, a classically trained musicologist, three times Conservatory award winner.
Crolla’s playing style strongly resembles Arizona native Sir Richard Bishop’s, whose music has been featured on this blog, but since Crolla came first, I’m guessing he must have been influenced somehow…
Or could it be, that as did Crolla and Georges Moustaki before, two distant strangers had the same idea to play as they would?