The extraordinary career of Argentine-born pianist, composer and conductor Lalo Schifrin, 80, brings to mind the story of the blind men and the elephant. For many jazz fans Schifrin is the pianist of Dizzy Gillespie’s quintet from 1960 to 1962. Discovered in Buenos Aires, he moved to New York in 1958, and while he remained with Gillespie for a relatively short time he contributed two major pieces to his repertoire: Gillespiana, a remarkable portrait of the trumpeter in a five-movement suite, and The New Continent, a three-movement suite recorded in 1962. For others Schifrin is a television and film composer best known by his theme for Mission: Impossible.
But as this four-CD collection reminds us, he also wrote the soundtracks for iconic movies such as Dirty Harry, Cool Hand Luke, Bullitt and Coogan’s Bluff. Then again, classical music aficionados might claim him based on works such as Letters From Argentina or Metamorphosis, pieces blending jazz, popular and classical elements, or his Jazz Meets the Symphony albums.