Michel Portal

Dockings

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    9
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AllMusic Review by

On this session, Michel Portal is featured with an eclectic and impressive crew from different backgrounds, generations, and nationalities. Two rising figures of the French scene (pianist Bojan Zulfikarpasic and bassist Bruno Chevillon), two American stars (bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Joey Baron), and German trumpeter Markus Stockhausen, son of composer Karlheinz, join forces to create stimulating music. Beyond their differences, all share a characteristic versatility which contributes greatly to the success of this session. Overall, Portal remains true to his European esthetics, and even his heartfelt and faithful rendition of Carla Bley's "Ida Lupino" or his tribute to Eric Dolphy do not distract from the prevalent mood. In fact, on "Dolphy," the song's angular structure is reminiscent of the legendary American, but the atmosphere has more to do with John Surman, another great practitioner of the bass clarinet, the instrument Portal uses most on Dockings. "Mutinerie" is the composition that summarizes best the content of this recording, with a strong and engaging melody leading to an improvisation that takes the music outside through substantial and dramatic statements by Portal, Stockhausen, and Zulfikarpasic. Baron plays with confidence and authority without sacrificing subtlety when needed. As for Chevillon and Swallow, they share responsibilities without ever stepping on each other's feet. Dockings is arguably one of the most successful and accessible projects in Michel Portal's long-lasting career.

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