Michel Portal

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Michel Portal, Bruges, Concertgebouw, 2006
Michel Portal in Dortmund's Domicil, March 2010
Michel Portal at Le Trition jazz club, Paris, November 2019

Michel Portal (born November 27, 1935 in Bayonne ) is a French musician and composer who plays the clarinet , bass clarinet , various saxophones and bandoneon . As an "all-round musician who dances at many stylistic weddings" ( Ekkehard Jost ), he emerges both in jazz and as a classical soloist as well as with ensembles of new music. As a bass clarinetist, he provided important stylistic and technical impulses.

Live and act

Portal, who grew up with Basque folklore (his grandfather led a brass band ), learned the clarinet from the age of six. During his school days he was enthusiastic about jazz, but completed a classical training as a clarinetist . He completed his instrumental studies at the Paris Conservatory with a first prize in 1958. At the beginning of his musical career, Portal was committed to classical music and contemporary European concert music. From 1967 on he was a member of the Musique Vivante ensemble (including groundbreaking interpretations by Luciano Berio , Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen ).

He also devoted himself to popular music as an accompanist to Édith Piaf . Triggered by a concert by Dizzy Gillespies, he deepened his preference for jazz from the mid-1960s; he played bass clarinet and alto saxophone with Jef Gilson , François Tusques , Jean-Luc Ponty and André Hodeir, among others . The bandoneon was added later (first heard in Mauricio Kagel's Exotica ). Since the early 1970s he was one of the prominent representatives of French free jazz . With the composer and trombonist Vinko Globokar , Jean-Pierre Drouet and Carlos Roqué Alsina he co-founded the improvisation quartet New Phonic Art .

Portal expanded its musical understanding through international musical contacts. He continued the cooperation he had started with Joachim Kühn in the 1960s and also played with musicians such as Anthony Braxton , Jack DeJohnette , Daniel Humair , Barre Phillips , John Surman , Bernard Lubat , Dave Liebman , Nguyên Lê and Vernon Reid . He has worked in duos with the accordionist Richard Galliano and the pianist Martial Solal, and since 2009 with Yaron Herman .

Since 1975 Michel Portal has also written numerous film scores and continues to be active as an interpreter of new music and classical clarinet concerts.


  • 1970: Hoa-Binh
  • 1979: The mysterious sect (Écoute voir ...)
  • 1979: The dogs (Les chiens)
  • 1979: Fateful friendship (L'adoption)
  • 1980: A sheet of love (Un page d'Amour)
  • 1981: Marseille secret operation (L'ombre rouge)
  • 1982: The return of Martin Guerre (Le retour de Martin Guerre)
  • 1984: The Big Deal (L'ennemi public n ° 2)
  • 1986: Max mon amour
  • 1987: The Light (Yeelen)
  • 1987: The Monk and the Witch (Le moine et la sorcière)
  • 1988: The black Milan (Milan noir)
  • 1988: A story about the wind (Une histoire de vent)
  • 1988: prisoners (Prisonnières)
  • 1988: Natalia
  • 1988: Murder Sketches (En toute innocence)
  • 1989: The train from Vienna (Le train de Vienne)
  • 1989: Wild Children (Les enfants de desordre)
  • 1989: The dead fish
  • 1989: Inspector Lavardin: The devil in the city (Le diable en ville)
  • 1990: The Black Angel (Angels)
  • 1990: Aventure de Catherine C.
  • 1990: Dr. Petiot
  • 1992 fear (La peur)
  • 1992 Casanova's return (Le retour de Casanova)
  • 1992: The new one (Poulets à l'amende)
  • 1993: Tomorrow (Pour demain)
  • 1994: The machine (La machine)
  • 1994: Eugénie Grandet
  • 1996: The beautiful summer (Le bel été 1914)
  • 1997: Buud Yam
  • 1998: Monsieur Mobbing (De gré ou de force)
  • 1998: The Nightmare Night (Un fait divers)
  • 1999: C'est quoi la vie?
  • 2000: The Uninvited Guest (La dette)
  • 2000: Aïe
  • 2000: Passionnément
  • 2002: A Long Road to Freedom (L'enfant des lumières)
  • 2002: It's all because of Benjamin! (À cause d'un garçon)
  • 2003: A Child of Our Time (Un fils de notre temps)
  • 2005: The factory is on fire (Jusqu'au bout)
  • 2006: Under the spell of the South Seas (Les aventuriers des mers du Sud)
  • 2010: Nylons and cigarettes (Cigarettes et bas nylon)

Prizes and awards

Discographic notes


“(When asked what the difference between jazz and new music is for him :)“ When I play new music, I live in a good hotel. ““

- M.Portal : based on: Jazz in Nordrhein-Westfalen since 1946 , p. 327 (edited by Robert von Zahn)

I don't want to be a Stan Getz who takes three slaves to accompany him - very well, of course. I want to make music with guys who get along, who play. "

- Michel Portal

Jazz gives me the only opportunity to be free, to float, to dream. "

- Michel Portal

Lexigraphic entries

Web links

Commons : Michel Portal  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. cit. n. Kunzler Jazz Lexicon