Friday, September 2, 2016

Michel Portal - Radar (Live at Theater Gütersloh) 2016

Among jazz fans, you can have a lot of fun arguing whether “European Jazz” is a useful counterpoint to the American tradition, an original supplement thereto or “is worth less than American jazz on the market” as it can be read in a Wikipedia forum. There is no doubt that there have been and are gifted musicians this side of the Atlantic, who have molded and formed jazz for decades. They have developed very unique playing styles by merging European music traditions with American influences. To give these pioneers of European jazz a stage was the idea for the series of articles “European Jazz Legends”, which has been launched in the magazine Jazz thing in their 100th issue in September 2013. We can now look back on 16 issues. The symbolic stage has now become a real one, and it is in Gutersloh in the middle of Europe. Accompanying each edition of the magazine appearing five times a year, a concert planned especially for this occasion is being organized in cooperation with the label Intuition, the city of Gütersloh and Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln with current protagonists of the series, hosted by our author Götz Bühler. Each concert including an interview with the artist will be broadcast by Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR 3) at a later time, and the musical highlights of the concert will be released on a CD.

In other words, five concerts and five CDs in the series “European Jazz Legends” are planned for each year in the future, until end of 2017. In addition, a book will be published, in 2018, for which the article from the magazine will be revised and supplemented, among other things, to provide impressions from the concerts and discussions. The CD of Michel Portal is the seventh publication in the “European Jazz Legends” series. We from Intuition Records are very proud of this and would like to thank all partners and especially the musicians – and hope that you enjoy this series.

„Just because I play Brahms, does not mean that I forget about Charlie Parker“, Michel Portal said during his interview for the portrait series European Jazz Legends for Jazz thing in Paris in the winter of 2015. A „proud Eurojazzer“ (New York Times) and „a solitaire of experimental Jazz“ (Die Zeit), Michel Portal is certainly and comfortably at home in many musical worlds. 

The multi-instrumentalist from Bayonne, who had turned eighty just a few days before the interview, masters various clarinets and saxophones as well as the bandoneon, and is also recognized as a composer. His wit and wisdom, and the youthful energy and curiosity he brings to his astonishing improvisations are only some of the reasons Portal has enjoyed such a fruitful and enduring career. Having helped to kick start the Free Jazz movement in France in the Sixties, he went on to form „New Phonic Art“ to encourage collective improvisation and instant composing. After a rewarding collaboration with John Surman in 1970, Portal founded the long-lived Michel Portal Unit the following year, in order to encourage American and European musicians to play together in a freely improvised setting. 

Portal began composing music for soundtracks in the mid-1970s and later recorded an album of some of his favorite movie melodies called „Musiques de Cinémas“. During the following decades Portal increased his international reputation with various bands, concerts and recordings, often playing with Pierre Favre, Dave Liebman, Martial Solal, Mino Cinelu and Jack DeJohnette, but also with musicians from Minneapolis, MN.

Michel Portal“s extended improvisations with the American pianist Richie Beirach were recorded for this CD on March 5th 2016 during a concert in the Theater Gütersloh and mark the first time these musicians ever played together - together with the recordings with the WDR Bigband they are further proof of the universality of the musical language called Jazz and the fascinating and infectious vitality of improvisation. „I love to play in front of an audience“, Portal said. „It is like a metamorphosis. I feel bad, if I haven´t played live for two weeks. But after a concert it is as if I´ve just taken a ton of Aspirin.“

01. Esquisse Part 1
02. Esquisse Part 2
03. Esquisse Part 3
04. Bailador
05. Dolce
06. Interview With Michel Portal (by Götz Bühler)