The multi-instrumentalist from Bayonne, who had turned eighty just a few days before the interview, masters various clarinets and saxophones as well as the bandoneon, and is also recognized as a composer. His wit and wisdom, and the youthful energy and curiosity he brings to his astonishing improvisations are only some of the reasons Portal has enjoyed such a fruitful and enduring career. Having helped to kick start the Free Jazz movement in France in the Sixties, he went on to form „New Phonic Art“ to encourage collective improvisation and instant composing. After a rewarding collaboration with John Surman in 1970, Portal founded the long-lived Michel Portal Unit the following year, in order to encourage American and European musicians to play together in a freely improvised setting. Portal began composing music for soundtracks in the mid-1970s and later recorded an album of some of his favorite movie melodies called „Musiques de Cinémas“. During the following decades Portal increased his international reputation with various bands, concerts and recordings, often playing with Pierre Favre, Dave Liebman, Martial Solal, Mino Cinelu and Jack DeJohnette, but also with musicians from Minneapolis, MN.