Michel Portal

COMPOSERS: Michel Portal
LABELS: Label Bleu
WORKS: Musiques de Cinemas
PERFORMER: Portal (b cl, saxophones); with Ralph Towner (g); Nguyen Le (syn, g); Paolo Fresu (t); Aldo Romano (d), etc
CATALOGUE NO: LBLC 6574 (distr. New Note
On this consistently absorbing album, French reedsman/composer Michel Portal has drawn together examples of his film music and arranged them for various jazz groups, a percussion ensemble and a tango orchestra. He moves easily between the hip minimalism of Laurie Anderson, the folk-based purity of John Surman, the taut drama of the late tango master Astor Piazzolla and freewheeling, highly percussive modern jazz. His musical and intellectual power, obvious in both the cogency of the compositions and the virtuosity of his playing, draws all the apparently disparate strands together into a triumphantly coherent musical whole. The longest piece, ‘Yeelen’, a multi-textured feast of treacly yet sonorous bass clarinet, sparkling guitars and rattling percussion, is worth the price of admission alone. Overall, this is a superb album from a strangely neglected jazz composer. CP

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