Home clarinet Guy Le Querrec’s Magnum Opus: “Portal au Fur et à Mesures” Unveils a Cinematic Jazz Journey

Guy Le Querrec’s Magnum Opus: “Portal au Fur et à Mesures” Unveils a Cinematic Jazz Journey

by Madonna

In a tribute to the harmonious intersection of music, camaraderie, and the art of improvisation, the iconic Magnum veteran photographer, Guy Le Querrec, presents a unique and monumental work titled “Portal au Fur et à Mesures.” Chronicling the illustrious career of the extraordinary multi-instrumentalist, Michel Portal, this 400-page opus is a visual symphony comprising nearly 400 photographs, all meticulously captured by the lens of GLQ over the span of 50 years.

Published by Editions de Juillet, the book transcends the conventional boundaries of a photographic collection. It weaves a narrative akin to a Jim Jarmusch road-style movie, inviting readers to embark on a captivating journey alongside the ever-on-the-move Michel Portal. The pages unfold like scenes from a film, each photograph capturing the essence of a moment, a concert, or an intimate and vulnerable instance in the life of this musical virtuoso.

One cannot help but be enthralled by the visual storytelling that brings to life the metamorphosis of Portal’s music—from the captivating images of his photogenic saxophone on stage to the surreal transformation of the bandoneon into a whimsical caterpillar. Le Querrec’s lens transcends mere documentation; it becomes a portal into the very soul of Michel Portal’s music.

As the reader navigates through the book, they are treated to glimpses of Portal’s performances in legendary venues like Châteauvallon, Uzeste, Marciac, Chapel of the Lombards, and Salle Pleyel. Le Querrec, embodying the essence of an old-school photographer, captures these moments with a black and white film camera, eschewing digital technology and autofocus. The result is an intimate portrayal of Portal’s laughter, brilliance, and moments of exaltation.

The photographs also unveil the life of a musician on the road—scenes of Portal sound asleep in Bernard Lubat’s van, the founder of the Uzeste festival, or the unexpected stop at a bakery-pastry shop for surprise bags, adding a touch of humanity to the artistic journey.

Le Querrec skillfully parallels the improvisational nature of jazz with his own photographic approach. The images become a visual improvisation, mirroring the spontaneous and unpredictable essence of Portal’s music. From capturing Portal’s dual clarinet performance at the 1972 Châteauvallon Festival to the impromptu meetings with other jazz greats, each photograph is a testament to the shared language of jazz and photography.

The book concludes with a poignant photograph, an improvised farewell to a friend of fifty years. A chauffeur with a luggage cart holds a sign with Portal’s name, ready to escort him to a concert at the Olympia. It’s a visual “Hello Goodbye,” leaving readers with a lingering question—will the journey continue, with Le Querrec and Portal hitting the road together once more?

“Portal au Fur et à Mesures” stands not just as a photographic collection but as a testament to the enduring friendship between artist and photographer, and the timeless allure of jazz as a genre that thrives on improvisation and communion.

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