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Michel Portal

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Price: € 19.95 13.97
Format: CD
Label: Intuition
UPC: 0608917131925
Catnr: INTCHR 71319
Release date: 26 August 2016
old €19.95 new € 13.97
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19.95 13.97
old €19.95 new € 13.97
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Label
Intuition
UPC
0608917131925
Catalogue number
INTCHR 71319
Release date
26 August 2016

"Portal always keeps his sublime tone"

Jazzflits, 06-2-2017
Album
Artist(s)
Composer(s)
Press
EN
DE

About the album

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 on their 100th issue in September 2013. Accompanying each edition of the magazine a concert is planned especially for the occasion is organized and the highlights recorded and released. The multi-instrumentalist from Bayonne, who had turned eighty just a few days before the interview, masters various clarinets and
“Nur weil ich Brahms spiele, heißt das noch lange nicht, dass ich Charlie Parker vergessen habe”, sagte Michel Portal während seines Interviews für das Porträt in Jazz thing in Paris. Es wurde im Rahmen der Reihe „European Jazz Legends“ im Winter 2015 geführt. Als „stolzer Eurojazzer“ (New York Times) und „ein Solitär des experimentellen Jazz“ (Die Zeit) ist Michel Portal durchaus in vielen musikalischen Welten beheimatet, und er fühlt sich in allen wohl. Der Multiinstrumentalist aus Bayonne (F) wurde wenige Tage vor dem Interview 80 Jahre alt. Er beherrscht verschiedene Klarinetten und Saxophone sowie das Bandoneon, auch als Komponist ist er sehr angesehen. Seine Weisheit, sein Witz, seine jugendliche Energie und seine Neugier, die er in seine erstaunlichen Improvisationen einbringt, sind nur einige der Zutaten, die zu seiner erfolgreichen und immer noch andauernden Karriere beitrugen. Er war einer der Akteure, die die Entwicklung des Free Jazz in den 60er Jahren in Frankreich befeuerten, mit Vinko Globokar begründete er die Gruppe „New Phonic Art“, um Kollektiv-Improvisation und „instant composing“ weiter zu entwickeln. Nach einer erfolgreichen Zusammenarbeit mit John Surman im Jahre 1970 gründete Portal im Folgejahr die langlebige Formation „Michel Portal Unit“, die amerikanischen und europäischen Musikern eine gemeinsame Plattform für freie Improvisationen bot. Mitte der 70er Jahre begann er, Filmmusik zu komponieren und nahm später sogar ein Album mit dem Titel „Musiques de Cinémas“ auf. In den folgende Jahrzehnten baute Portal seine internationale Reputation in verschiedenen Bands, bei Konzerten und Aufnahmen weiter aus, spielte oft mit Pierre Favre, Dave Liebman, Martial Solal, Mino Cinelu und Jack DeJohnette, sowie mit Musikern aus Minneapolis, MN, USA.

Michel Portal´s Improvisationen mit dem amerikanischen Pianisten Richie Beirach wurden für diese CD am 5. März 2016 live im Theater Gütersloh aufgenommen – und es war tatsächlich das allererste Mal, dass die beiden Musiker zusammen spielten! Diese Stücke sind, zusammen mit den Aufnahmen mit der WDR Bigband, erneut ein Beleg für die Universalität der musikalischen Sprache „Jazz“ und die faszinierende und ansteckende Lebendigkeit der Improvisation. „Ich liebe es, vor Publikum zu spielen“, sagte Portal, „es ist wie eine Metamorphose. Ich fühle mich richtig schlecht, wenn ich zwei Wochen lang nicht auftreten konnte. Aber nach einem Konzert fühle ich mich immer, als hätte ich eine Tonne Aspirin geschluckt.“

Artist(s)

Michel Portal (clarinet)

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...
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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.


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WDR Big Band Köln

As an ensemble pertaining to the WDR radio and television broadcasting entity, the Cologne WDR Big Band fulfils a mission as regional cultural ambassador – specifically in order to bring jazz music and similar styles closer to audiences all across North-Rhine Westphalia. The orchestra’s profile foresees the elaboration of variegated programmes featuring the widest possible spectrum of styles. With its international roster of members, this orchestra is also firmly rooted in European tradition, particularly in European jazz. Each member is a consummate soloist with an unmistakable timbre, thereby creating an orchestral sound with brilliant projection in the concert hall. In collaboration with internationally renowned guest conductors, composers, arrangers and soloists, the WDR Big Band puts together an annual series of...
more
As an ensemble pertaining to the WDR radio and television broadcasting entity, the Cologne WDR Big Band fulfils a mission as regional cultural ambassador – specifically in order to bring jazz music and similar styles closer to audiences all across North-Rhine Westphalia. The orchestra’s profile foresees the elaboration of variegated programmes featuring the widest possible spectrum of styles. With its international roster of members, this orchestra is also firmly rooted in European tradition, particularly in European jazz. Each member is a consummate soloist with an unmistakable timbre, thereby creating an orchestral sound with brilliant projection in the concert hall. In collaboration with internationally renowned guest conductors, composers, arrangers and soloists, the WDR Big Band puts together an annual series of concert projects covering a wide spectrum. Live performances take place not only within the WDR broadcasting territory, but also in the rest of Germany and abroad, thus increasing the big band’s outreach and notoriety. The WDR Big Band’s programme covers the entire jazz spectrum, including all styles of music related to jazz, from tradition to the avant-garde.

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Richie Beirach (piano)

When it comes to jazz musicians improving with age, the pianist Richie Beirach is a perfect example. With a new recording celebrating his 70th birthday, the pianist-composer demonstrates he’s still at the top of his game alongside his congenial partner of two decades, the Stuttgart-born, New York based violinist Gregor Huebner. Another birthday boy, Huebner is also celebrating a milestone, reaching half a century on May 23rd, the exact same day as Beirach. As a tribute, the leading Munich-based jazz label ACT release a CD featuring highlights recorded in 2012 from their decade long annual week’s ‘live’ residence at the illustrious Birdland in New York, in which they are joined by the high calibre lineup of bassist George Mraz, trumpeter...
more
When it comes to jazz musicians improving with age, the pianist Richie Beirach is a perfect example. With a new recording celebrating his 70th birthday, the pianist-composer demonstrates he’s still at the top of his game alongside his congenial partner of two decades, the Stuttgart-born, New York based violinist Gregor Huebner. Another birthday boy, Huebner is also celebrating a milestone, reaching half a century on May 23rd, the exact same day as Beirach. As a tribute, the leading Munich-based jazz label ACT release a CD featuring highlights recorded in 2012 from their decade long annual week’s ‘live’ residence at the illustrious Birdland in New York, in which they are joined by the high calibre lineup of bassist George Mraz, trumpeter Randy Brecker and drummer Billy Hart. Big birthdays are though not the only thing the esteemed pair have in common. Both musicians studied independently of each other with the same classical composition teacher, Ludmilla Uhlela at Manhattan School of Music, and both have an eastern European background. Huebner reflects on their enduring creative partnership over 21 years: “Richie always says we still play in the same way today like we played in the first minute in 1996 in his little apartment on Spring Street in NYC and I feel the same way, even though we have incredibly developed our music together. The spirit and the bond between us was already there in the first minute.” It’s through the development of their own uniquely imaginative version of ‘third stream’, the absorption of elements of the European ‘classical’ music tradition into New York’s postbop idioms that they’ve found so much common ground. In the late 1990’s they recorded together for ACT in the late 1990s on titles Round About Bartok,…Monteverdi,…Mompou in trio with George Mraz. A couple of the tracks from these albums are revisited on the new ‘live’ release. ‘Bartok Bagatelle #4’ at first reflects the elegant classicism of Beirach’s mesmerizing solo piano recordings then later his restless, harmonically adventurous artistry that has glimpses of the early influence of McCoy Tyner and Bill Evans among other piano modernist giants. As does his solo on ‘Bach (Siciliana)’ with Huebner’s violin adding a bewitching yearning, jazz-inflected mediterranean quality.
I think the music of certain composers is more approachable for improvisation then others,” observes Huebner. “For example Bach was a great improviser and you hear that in his music. In some of the romantic composers you find similar harmonic structures which were used later in jazz and with Bartok and other composers from the 20th century the rhythmic part is very interesting. The mix of the music on the CD is very typical for us, you find classical pieces, our own compositions, a typical jazz standard and a composition by John Coltrane [‘Transition’]. Each piece brings something totally new but everything is connected through improvisation.” Of his originals, one of Beirach’s most popular, a classical-influenced, hauntingly melancholic version of ‘Elm’ is a standout piece. Beirach’s infectious latin vamp on the standard ‘You Don’t Know What Love is’ is associated with Chet Baker and a reminder of Beirach’s tenure in his band early on in his career. Approaching the ripe old age of 70, it’s a moment to consider Richie Beirach’s high level achievements as one of America’s greatest living modernist jazz piano stylists. Originally a sideman of both Stan Getz and the aforementioned Baker, Beirach among others has enjoyed a memorably intimate association with the saxophonist Dave Liebman since the 1970s, in bands (Quest, Lookout Farm) that included the legendary Billy Hart whose explosive presence at times on the new CD eclipses entirely his 76 years on the planet. “For Richie,” Huebner explains, “these are his oldest friends, these are the people he grew up with and these are the people he developed his music together” In jazz that development doesn’t come to an end. It’s testament to the exploratory ‘young at heart’ spirit of the grand jazz masters on Live at Birdland New York that not for a second does anyone rest on their considerable laurels.

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Composer(s)

Press

Portal always keeps his sublime tone
Jazzflits, 06-2-2017

''A nice addition to the already impressive discography from Portal.''
Jazzenzo, 27-12-2016

"Just like the other albums from the series gold, an absolute recommendation."
Rootstime, 15-11-2016

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