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Michel Portal

© Cyrille Guir

Michel Portal

Having found himself at the confluence of several spheres of the musical scene, Michel Portal is probably one of the musicians in Europe who has most consistently explored – and above all lived through – the aesthetic issues that have affected music in the second half of the twentieth century, both in its questioning of traditional categories (soloist, performer, composer) and in its instrumental practices.


The French clarinettist, saxophonist and composer is an eclectic instrumentalist who is equally at home in classical music and jazz. An interpreter of Mozart, Brahms, Berg, Boulez, Stockhausen, Berio and Kagel, and an award-winning composer of film soundtracks, he has also been one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century French and European jazz.

Michel Portal is a highly inspired soloist and chamber musician, combining a limpid and rigorous reading of the works he performs with an extraordinary expressiveness that indisputably sets him apart from the conventional paths. He has always refused to let music stand still, letting his imagination and inventiveness run wild in improvisation, for which he sometimes abandons the clarinet for the bandoneon or saxophone.

A renowned artist in both the jazz and classical worlds, Michel Portal plays alongside classical musicians such as Maria João Pires, Bruno Canino and Michel Dalberto, and jazz musicians such as pianists Bojan Zulfikarpašić and Jacky Terrasson, accordionist Richard Galliano, drummer Daniel Humair, and double bass players Bob Guérin and Henri Texier.

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