This artist wears a wide beret on the French jazz scene -- starting out in the '40s in the Django Reinhardt ensemble and still going strong with a synthesizer in his baggage more than half a century later. However, Michel de Villers is mostly known as a reed player, with saxophones and clarinets of varying sizes and pitch de résistance. As either the leader of groups such as the Michel de Villers Quintet and Michel de Villers et Son Orchestre or as a sideman with touring American stars, his solo improvising abilities rank with the best. De Villers is living up to high standards: favoring the brilliant execution of players such as Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt, his relationship to the rhythm section is cosmic savoir-faire.
French jazz radio programming has been a maison for de Villers as both a player and an actual broadcaster. He had a well-established presence as a disc jockey on radio by the '70s, his presentations flowing over nicely into live music jams, sometimes in collaboration with the combo of Jack Dievel. His later activities also include Celtic music, performed and recorded with Rosena Horan, Jean-Pascal Assailly, and others (e.g., Off the Rails). The de Villers discography includes much more for jazz buffs to chew on, especially some exciting recordings from the Paris jazz scene of the '40s and '50s.