Improvising on Francis Lai’s “A Man And A Woman”

Hey Improvisers,

Have you ever played Francis Lai’s tune “A Man And A Woman?” While it’s not a common jazz jam session tune, it gives us improvisers a lot to work with if we meet it halfway, and not try to force it into a typical jazz mold.

“A Man And A Woman” is one of those tunes in The Real Book, Volume 1, that we often pass over. However, it yields rich musical rewards when we sit down at our pianos and actually begin playing it.

I found this out myself when I played the song as part of my Journey Through The Real Book video series. Since I’m going through the entire book, tune-by-tune, I’m finding lots of exciting ways to improvise that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of by playing my usual repertoire.

“A Man And A Woman,” which is from the classic 1966 French film with the same title, is played with straight 8th notes and has shifting time signatures. The melody is extremely catchy, and the chord progression is the type of jazz-pop hybrid that was popular during the 1960s. This means that we can lean towards either the pop side of the spectrum or go for a more jazzy style of improvising. We can also alternate between these two styles as we play the tune.

This video will give you lots of ideas on how you can play this wonderful song:

A Man And A Woman: Journey Through The Real Book #225

Have fun!


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