Personnel: Michel Portal (clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Michel Portal; Erik Fratzke (electric guitar, bass guitar); Jef Lee Johnson (electric guitar); Tony Malaby (tenor saxophone); Tony Hymas (piano, keyboards); Fran‡ois Moutin (double bass); Michael Bland , J.T. Bates (drums); Airto Moreira (percussion).
Additional personnel: Sonny Thompson (electric bass); Jef Lee Johnson, Airto Moreira, Michael Bland , Tony Hymas, Tony Malaby, Fran‡ois Moutin, Erik Fratzke, J.T. Bates.
Recording information: Creation, Minneapolis, MN (2006).
Photographer: Guy Lequerrec.
Classically trained saxophonist/composer Michel Portal is one of the prime movers in the French jazz scene and a frequent collaborator with diverse musicians from both Europe and America. BIRD WATCHING shows he has no intention of mellowing out anytime soon. Portal alternates between clarinet, alto, and soprano saxophones in a program of original material that finds him locking horns with the fine American tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby. The overall tone of the disc is overcast and ominous, the rhythms dynamic and urgent. (How could it be otherwise with the presence of Brazilian percussion master Airto Moreira?) This is thoughtful, creative jazz that is engaging and direct.