Michel Portal at 85: new Label Bleu quintet release on the way in March

The double bass solo taking on the melodic theme at the beginning here is just sublime. Have a listen. The player? Bruno Chevillon. It's quite a band that reeds legend Michel Portal, who turned 85 in November, has put together for MP85 out on Label …

Published: 23 Feb 2021. Updated: 13 days.

The double bass solo taking on the melodic theme at the beginning here is just sublime. Have a listen. The player? Bruno Chevillon. It's quite a band that reeds legend Michel Portal, who turned 85 in November, has put together for MP85 out on Label Bleu on 5 March: Bojan Z is on piano & keys, Nils Wogram on trombone and Lander Gyselinck on drums complete the line-up. 'Euskal Kantua,' a beautiful song of the Basque country, is the final track. The spell continues when Portal top, photo: Wikipedia, enters the practically incantatory ensemble sound.

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Huw V Williams, Llonyddiaeth

Naked double bass or a pyjama game. Huw V Williams is one of the top jazz bassists to have emerged in the last decade. I make that claim on the basis of Hon (2016). He goes further and my admiration for him goes deeper as he scales Snowdonia here …

Published: 23 Feb 2021. Updated: 13 days.

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Naked double bass or a pyjama game. Huw V Williams is one of the top jazz bassists to have emerged in the last decade. I make that claim on the basis of Hon (2016). He goes further and my admiration for him goes deeper as he scales Snowdonia here without any ropes on a solo double bass record made in Lockdown circumstances recently. Against the odds it works. Mainly because Williams makes his improvisations communicate. This stands up well with hearing Eberhard Weber pull off a solo bass feat many years ago at a concert on the South Bank. Williams does not really use a lot of technology, unlike that great Garbarekian's approach who embellished what he was doing by playing over self-triggered real time loops. It's instead completely stripped back and the sound quality isn't even anything to write home about not that it really matters when the playing is as good as here (it just needs to be newly mastered). 'Cor' however has a hazy 'tronic haze of a drone behind the solo line at first which is more than a guide note, almost achieving odd as it may sound in the context a kind of tintinnabulation. Don't shoot me if Google Translate's renderings of the Welsh language titles are lost in translation or wrong, the title, no gloss is provided, may mean 'literature', 'Neidio' may be 'Jump', 'Ail-ddyfniaeth' 'Second worldness'. It's not an exaggeration to say that Williams seems the complete artist even if you might think uncharitably that this album is an extension of thinking out loud. Some beautiful playing develops. A Dave Holland in the making? Yes. Williams' plucking action and rhythmic flair are at the heart of his strength and turbo charges his art. The arco passages go free and into the feeling. You can tell on a record like this because time after time Williams finds the ''one'' at the heart of each piece and part of why Holland is the greatest and why Williams is well on his way going Dutch. Next time he may pull on all his musical clothes over his pyjamas yet this is fine and something else. SG. Huw V Williams, top. Photo: Bandcamp