El Portal comes from Miami, and they took their name from a suburb of 2,500 inhabitants. It's a quintet formed by Nolan Lem on saxophone (all of the pieces were written by him), Rainer Davies on electric guitar, Paul Bedal on Fender Rhodes, Joe Rehmer on bass and Dion Keith Kerr IV on drums. It was in the autumn of 2006 when the five musicians found themselves hiding out in the same house for days from the violent Hurricane Katrina. They made a pact that, if all of them escaped unharmed, they would found a jazz band together. Not exactly typical.
Their strong bond can be easily heard on this record. Their varied listening habits and performing experience are reflected in the currency of the music. Here and there we find hypnotic bass lines and rock riffs; but there's also a nod to Mingus and an affinity for drastic changes of tempo and mood which remind attentive listeners of John Zorn. But these similarities are incorporated into a musical whole which stands on its own strength, characterized by a search for unexplored sonic territory. These young musicians are covering ground, making strong original music with a conviction that belies their age. (F. Scoppio)
Recorded in Cavalicco (Udine) on 18, 19 May 2011 at Artesuono Recording Studio
Recording engineer Stefano Amerio
Liner notes by Federico Scoppio