Michel Mainil

Saxophonist, clarinettist, composer

Biography

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Photo credit: ©Robert Hansenne

Saxophonist and clarinettist Michel Mainil is one of the most active musicians on the jazz scene, both in Belgium and abroad. He began his musical training in the music academy circuit before attending the Jazz Seminar of the Conservatory of Liège, the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel and various jazz and improvised music courses (Steve Houben, Barre Phillips).


He performed very early in his career in numerous groups or formations of all styles: small or large jazz groups, salsa groups, African music combos, interventions in theatrical and poetic projects, numerous studio recordings, etc. Attracted by Africa, he stayed in Cameroon where he was introduced to African music and performed there. Michel participates in numerous theatrical projects, notably with the Studio-théâtre, the Collectif Théâtre, Aucun Mérite, the Théâtre Jean Vilar etc. and directs his own projects, including the Spanish Jazz Project, Victor Jara, le Poète au Chant Libre etc. He regularly collaborates with Eloi Baudimont (Mali Mali, Fanfare Détournée), Hughes Maréchal, Bruno Castellucci, Thomas Champagne, Pascal Michaux, Gino Lattuca, Lisa Rosillo, Antoine Cirri, Alain Rochette etc. His discography consists of a dozen CDs recorded between 2009 and 2020 with the Michel Mainil 4tet, in particular Reflections in Blue (2009), Spanish Jazz Project (2013), If you Missed the Beginning (2015), The Christmas Songbook and Soul Voyage (2017), Vitor Jara, le Poète au Chant Libre (2020). He has composed more than 70 scores for theatre and film. 


Besides Belgium, Michel Mainil has performed in France, Holland, Great Britain, Morocco, Cameroon, Poland, Italy, Quebec and Mali. At the same time, he gives numerous jazz workshops, notably for the Province of Hainaut and the Gaume Jazz Festival. He is also a teacher at the Academy, at the "Mouvement" school in Waterloo, at the Boîte à Zic in Nivelles, and coordinates music-theatre improvisation workshops (Collectif 1984, Centre Barbiana). Michel was the curator of the "We Want Jazz" exhibition for the City of Mons, and has been directing the Blue Stone Big Band (Soignies) since 2022. Finally, he is also the author of the book "Memories of you" dedicated to the double bassist and cellist José Bedeur (Editions Bossa Flor) published in 2021. 


He crossed paths with Bossa Flor in 2015 as part of the "Arts en Scène et en Saisons" festival with the Spanish Jazz Project, and has remained in contact with Philippe Quevauviller ever since. The Hôbalala Jazz project was born from their meeting with Alexandre Latora (guitar) and Osman Martins (percussion), who was joined by Chris Vaassen (double bass).