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Album Review

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.


Born: 27 November 1935 in Bayonne, France

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Multi-instrumentalist (clarinets, saxophones, bandoneon, etc.) and composer Michel Portal can be considered as the father figure of the French modern jazz scene. Classically trained, Portal gained notoriety through his association with various modern and contemporary music composers. His performance as the featured soloist on Pierre Boulez's Domaines remains a highlight of his career. However, this exceptional musician also had a serious interest in folk music and jazz. In the late '60s, he initiated...
Full bio
Birdwatcher, Michel Portal
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  • 9,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Big Band
  • Released: 01 January 2007

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