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Contemporary Jazz - Released March 5, 2021 | Label Bleu

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Like it says on the tin: Michel Portal is 85! But time has never managed to curb the desires and the creative madness of this artist who guards a no man's land between jazz, contemporary music and everything else. Portal has always prized unexpected or unlikely encounters. Blurring the lines. Magnifying the differences. Building on the margins. After ten years of discographic silence (Baïlador dates from 2011), the clarinettist embarks here his band with the cast of fire (Bojan Z on piano and keyboards, Nils Wogram on trombone and Bruno Chevillon on double bass) in an explosive improvisation which was inspired by the backdrop of the pandemic."This record was made under very special conditions, after two long months of lockdown. I and the members of my new quintet found ourselves in the studios of Label Bleu, eager for music but with mixed feeling of joy, fear of the virus and involuntary distrust of others, who were suddenly relegated to the status of "threatening strangers". As if it were a matter of each of us re-establishing the right distances from the world and from each other, music was created in the present tense over these few days of recording, by moving it between one another with a true collective intensity. It is this fundamental movement of opening up that, I believe, gives the music on this record its colour and direction – like a gradual return to life. What we have all sought here together was a way of re-finding the élan and carefree spirit of playing music, the simple joy of sharing something vivid and explosive in the moment: this faculty that music possesses, when we take it sufficiently seriously and with a light-enough heart, of breaking down all the walls between us!"Walls which can also be borders. MP85 erases them and moves from Africa (African Wind) to Armenia (Armenia) to the Basque Country (Euskal Kantua). The music is so tightly-made that we can close our eyes and follow the artists around the world in 50 minutes. Whether the improvisation is tinged with a certain melancholy (Armenia) or whether it's more lively, (Jazzoulie), Michel Portal's gang makes one forget the pandemic's deadening interruption. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Concertos - Released September 11, 2020 | Alpha

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A legendary clarinettist equally experienced in classical music, jazz and film music, Michel Portal meets Paul Meyer, another outstanding ambassador of the clarinet in the world and a long-time friend. Side by side and accompanied by the Orchestre de Chambre de Wallonie, they offer a programme that reveals their musical rapport for the first time on disc, whether the repertory is Baroque, galant or Romantic. So, alongside Telemann’s Concerto in D minor for two chalumeaux and strings, we have Carl Stamitz’s Concerto no. 4 for two clarinets, while Mendelssohn’s Konzertstück No. 1 and No. 2 are juxtaposed with duos by Telemann and C. P. E. Bach. Each work constitutes a calm dialogue in which words are replaced by notes, a touching testimony to two exceptional careers. © Alpha Classics
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Jazz - Released June 1, 2010 | Le Chant du Monde

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Contemporary Jazz - Released January 1, 1997 | Label Bleu

On this session, Michel Portal is featured with an eclectic and impressive crew from different backgrounds, generations, and nationalities. Two rising figures of the French scene (pianist Bojan Zulfikarpasic and bassist Bruno Chevillon), two American stars (bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Joey Baron), and German trumpeter Markus Stockhausen, son of composer Karlheinz, join forces to create stimulating music. Beyond their differences, all share a characteristic versatility which contributes greatly to the success of this session. Overall, Portal remains true to his European esthetics, and even his heartfelt and faithful rendition of Carla Bley's "Ida Lupino" or his tribute to Eric Dolphy do not distract from the prevalent mood. In fact, on "Dolphy," the song's angular structure is reminiscent of the legendary American, but the atmosphere has more to do with John Surman, another great practitioner of the bass clarinet, the instrument Portal uses most on Dockings. "Mutinerie" is the composition that summarizes best the content of this recording, with a strong and engaging melody leading to an improvisation that takes the music outside through substantial and dramatic statements by Portal, Stockhausen, and Zulfikarpasic. Baron plays with confidence and authority without sacrificing subtlety when needed. As for Chevillon and Swallow, they share responsibilities without ever stepping on each other's feet. Dockings is arguably one of the most successful and accessible projects in Michel Portal's long-lasting career. © Alain Drouot /TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 1998 | Warner Classics

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Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 1995 | Label Bleu

Jazz aficionados have the opportunity to discover another side of Michel Portal, who is also a composer of soundtracks. With Musiques de Cinemas, he decided to revisit some of the themes he wrote for movies and a famous French TV show with an explicit and ambitious objective in mind. For these new readings, he convened with mostly jazz musicians and approached the themes with a jazz outlook without turning them into jazz songs. The themes clearly reflect Portal's other musical interests and his acknowledged eclecticism. They also surely display enough harmonic and melodic qualities to be springboards for improvisation. Based on the mixed results, one is left wondering if Portal actually met his goal. "Docteur Petiot" is a beautiful tango, which gives listeners, for instance, the opportunity to hear Juan José Mosalini, a true legend of Argentine tango and surely an influence on Portal. Jazz definitely transpires through the rendition of "Max Mon Amour #2," featuring Paolo Fresu's smoky trumpet and Rita Marcotulli's angular piano. "Yeleen" is an engaging experiment that pairs Ralph Towner's guitar with N'Diaye Rose Doudou and his drum company. On the other hand, some arrangements suffer from dubious choices (the fusion-like "Une Histoire de Vent") or include occasional dull moments. Unfortunately, what sounded like a good idea is not fully realized in the execution, which prevents this recording from being fully convincing. © Alain Drouot /TiVo
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Contemporary Jazz - Released January 1, 1992 | Label Bleu

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Film Soundtracks - Released December 2, 2020 | Cezame Original Scores

Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Classical - Released January 13, 2009 | harmonia mundi

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Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 1986 | Studiocanal

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Michel Portal is one of the most original bass clarinetists to come up in the past 20 years, and one of the few to not sound (except in brief spots) like Eric Dolphy. On this set of originals, he plays forward-looking jazz that is consistently colorful, often quite moody, occasionally a bit menacing, and never dull. Portal, who is also heard on one song apiece on clarinet, alto, and soprano, interacts with the passionate tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby on six of the 11 selections, welcomes several guest players, and on three numbers utilizes two bassists. Some of the originals are complex and others are one-chord vamps but the momentum, fueled by a powerful rhythm section that on seven selections includes percussionist Airto, never slows down. Birdwatcher is a spirited outing that is well worth savoring. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1979 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released August 26, 2016 | Intuition

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Film Soundtracks - Released April 1, 2007 | Milan Music

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Jazz - Released October 4, 1999 | RCA Victor

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Contemporary Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | Label Bleu

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France