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Emile Parisien Quintet: Sfumato, ft. Michel Portal & Vincent Peirani

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Émile Parisien (soprano sax), Roberto Negro (piano), Manu Codjia (guitar), Simon Tailleu (double bass), Mario Costa (drums). Guest musicians: Michel Portal (clarinet, saxophone), Vincent Peirani (accordion)

Émile Parisien is, at his 36 years of age, one of the leading renovators of European jazz. He is a musician of broad technical training, who takes his inspiration both from Igor Stravinsky and from John Coltrane, lending a certain expressionist slant to his compositions. He has already won some of the major awards given in France to jazz artists: the Django Reinhardt Award in 2012 and the Victoires du Jazz award in 2014 and 2017, the latter precisely for the album Sfumato.

MICHEL PORTAL: DONOSTIAKO JAZZALDIA AWARD

Bayonne’s Michel Portal, a superlative Basque jazz musician, is an artist who denies classification, who challenges the rules, and to whom the rest of the world raises their hat for his expertise with the myriad the instruments he plays. He is an exceptional clarinet player, recognised in the classical music world for his renderings of Brahms and Mozart. While particularly magnificent on the bass clarinet, following in the wake of Eric Dolphy, he also plays a prodigious alto (influenced in his early days by Paul Desmond), tenor and soprano sax, and even the bandoneon. Owing to this variety of instruments, to his conception of music and to his ability to improvise on stage, Michel Portal is a figurehead of European free jazz. In 1971 he launched his Unit project, with an open structure serving as a music laboratory for many of the French avant-garde musicians. Although he advocates the collective dimension of a work created live on stage from minimal formal elements, Portal is also an accomplished composer, having written the music for numerous cinema and TV films.

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