Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB); Livraria Ler Devagar
European Jazz Conference Lisbon 2018
September 13-15, 2018
European Jazz Conference Lisbon 2018: Portuguese showcases
This year's annual European Jazz Conference, a convention organized by the European Jazz Network, took place at Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB) in the Portuguese capital Lisbon. CCB, a huge multifunctional cultural site in the Lisbon neighborhood of Santa Maria de Bélem, is situated at the banks of the Tagus river estuary that empties into the nearby Atlantic Ocean. The building of Centro Cultural Belém was designed by the architects Vittorio Gregotti from Novara, Italy, and Manuel Salgado from Lisbon and completed in 1992. The event comprises the EJN general assembly, a conference part with keynote speeches, discussion groups, workshops and network sessions, and a live music part with showcases and concerts. This article covers the live music part of the event. A report on the other part you can find here
Choices from a spectrum
The annual European Jazz Conference is an opportunity for the hosting country to present its own jazz-scene in a showcase program. The official core program of showcases comprised six showcases of each 35 minutes spread over two conference days in between other activities. This core program was augmented by 11 concerts in a nightly Fringe program.
When you have to make a selection of musicians and groups for these kinds of occasions well-balanced compromises with regard to age, gender, style directions etc. are needed. It is in principle a snapshot hopefully giving some indication of the state of affairs and direction(s) of the country's scene(s).
The opening gala concert showcased the country's most advanced jazz orchestra, The Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos, combined with four outstanding musicians: renowned vocalist Maria Joao
and pianist João Paulo Esteves da Silva
from the older generation, and accordionist João Barradas
and reedist João Mortágua
from the younger generation.
Six showcases then presented some relevant, indicative facets of the scene(s) in the North (Porto, Coimbra) and the center (Lisbon) of the country: Impermanence, a group of well- known young Portuguese trumpeter Susana Santos Silva
, Omniae, a group of young Portuguese drummer Pedro Melo Alves
, the Bode Wilson Trio, the sextet Axes of the previously mentioned João Mortagua, the trio longstanding tuba-guitar-drums trio TGB and a vocalist of the youngest generation, Beatriz Nunes, with her brilliant quartet. Besides these there was a Fringe Program with musical aces such as the new trio of renowned Portuguese saxophonist Rodrigo Amado, the amazing eleven-pieces LUME ensemble led by Marco Barroso
, the floating trio of vibraphonist Eduardo Cardinho
, the heavy Centauri group of guitarist André Fernandez
, and, as prelude to the conference, a concert of drumming ace Mário Costa
with his new Oxy Patina unit with two first class French musicians, pianist Benoit Delbecq
and bassist BrunoChevillon
There was also a concert at Lisbon's legendary Hot Club, founded in 1948, located at Praça Alegria in the heart of the city and run by Luis Hilário. These concerts ran every night during the conference, each with two sets. The first night presented vocalist Joana Machado
"Life Stories," the second night the Portuguese-British duo of drummer Pedro Segundo
and keyboardist Ross Stanley
, and, in the third night, finally the André Carvalho
The showcases together with the Fringe performances gave a hint to a rich scene of unique musical personalities and highly developed creative diversity. There also were some notable absentees to be mentioned. First of all, the great pianist Bernardo Sassetti
(1970-2012) who died much too young and is maybemostly involuntary -Portugal's best kept secret. He collaborated with, amongst others, bassist Carlos Barretto
, drummer Alexandre Frazão
and the other keystone of Portuguese jazz, pianist Mário Laginha
. Both, Sassetti and Laginha, were repeatedly mentioned by Carlos Martin and Maria João. There is an in memoriam radio program I made: you can listen to it ON DEMAND here
And there is also violinist Carlos 'Zingaro'
Alves (1948), who has to be mentioned as the most internationally known Portuguese musician. Zingaro participated in the movement of European free-improvised music as well as taking part in the US-American scene. He laid the seeds for the thriving scene of free improvised music in Portugal nowadays, a scene of a very unique approach, tone, flavor, spirit and influence on musicians from other countries. Part of it is the record label Clean Feed thatfrom 2001 onbecame home for many improvising musicians from the US as well as Europe and through the years built a clearly recognizable and influential identity.
Part of the fringe program werea bit odd at first sight -also two Norwegian configurations, Bugge Wesseltoft
's New Conception of Jazz and the Norwegian Espen Eriksen
Trio with English saxophonist and Portugal resident Andy Sheppard
. Portugal and Norway both are primarily facing the ocean and the most typical food of Portugal, bacalhau, dried and salted cod, is nowadays mainly imported from Norway. Also both countries are keenly busy to build and refresh their own identity, Norway as a relatively young nation and Portugal as a new democracy after 50 years of dictatorship and elongated overseas colonial warfare. So there might be a strong underlying connection and bond permeating sections of daily life. Actually it was a special wish of organizer Carlos Martins
to incorporate these two configurations. Another Portugal resident, Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love
, offered his own event with Portuguese, Dutch and English musicians parallel to the proceedings of the conference in Lisbon.
As a kind of prelude the night before the official opening day of European Jazz Conference the Oxy Patina Trio of Portuguese drummer Mario Costa with Benoit Delbecq and Bruno Chevillon celebrated its just released Clean Feed album (originally with French guitarist Marc Ducret) at the freshly reconstructed Teatro Capitolio in the center of Lisbon (see Europe Jazz Media Charts)
. Mario Costa, also the drummer of young fado star Ana Moura present in the audience, evidently has strong ties with the French scene via his connection with Emile Parisien
. Both played on the great Nebula
albums of Portuguese bassist Hugo Carvalhais
(see my review here
). Later Mario Costa was invited to the Joachim Kuhn
/Manu Codja/Vincent Peirani
The quality of this trio was as plain as day. Its central virtue was the magical manner the three musicians made the music shift in temperature and tempo, density and volume, mood and light. Highly dense parts exploded into open and serene parts, gracious parts changed into dark and spooky phases, which gave the music a chiaroscuro quality. Themes wonderfully emerged as shiny islands, unfolded and faded unpredictably. Great dynamics came from a rich underlying reservoir that apparently holds still more. It was an immediate strong beginning of the concert series of the next days.
Opening concert: Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos
The opening gala concert presented Portugal's most advanced and established jazz orchestra, Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos from the north of the country. The city of Matosinhos (nearly 200.000 inhabitants), a major port (Leixões) and fishing town, is part of the greater Porto agglomeration, situated at the Atlantic Ocean and bordered in the south by the city of Porto. I was lucky to see the orchestra performing in 2011 in Lisbon with Maria João in full bloom at the wonderful theatre São Luiz and in 2015, also in Lisbon, with Michael Mantler
in a performance of Mantler's work "The Jazz Composer's Orchestra Update." The Orchestra, directed by Pedro Guedes
and Carlos Azevedo
collaborated with a long series of first-rate musicians such as Maria Schneider
, Carla Bley
, Lee Konitz
, John Hollenbeck
, Mark Turner
, Carlos Bica
, Steve Swallow
, Gary Valente
, Dieter Glawischnig
, Chris Cheek
, Ohad Talmor
, Joshua Redman
and Andy Sheppard. The orchestra, to a significant extent supported by and embedded in the Municipality of Matosinhos, is now in its 19th year and has just moved into brand-new quarters, the High Performance Center for the Arts (CARA) with studios, office, rehearsal rooms etc.. The orchestra and its members have established a remarkable long-term educational practice for young people combined with purposeful interdisciplinary collaborations (more about the unique approach and practice soon in a separate article).
In the CCB Main Auditorium the orchestra played a program with four outstanding Portuguese guest musicians: vocalist Maria João and pianist João-Paulo Esteves from the older generation, and accordionist João Barradas and reedist João Mortágua from the younger generation.
The guest musicians were thoroughly familiar with the orchestra and vice versa, as they all had collaborated or even recorded together before. The ensemble is not a heavy type of Big Band. Instead it has a playful joyous Mediterranean lightness. The concert offered a varied quadripartite program; the musicians laid down solid lines with beautiful moments and captivating passages. The diversity somewhat prevented the orchestra from building an arch of tension and release and come to full bloom. Also, with more conducive acoustics the music, no doubt, would have had a stronger impact. The sound in the rectilinear, functional CCB main auditorium did not carry, flow and pervade the space. Especially in the beginning important layers were swallowed and dynamics of the orchestra and Maria João's voice became weakened.
João-Paulo Esteves (da Silva) is one of the great Portuguese pianists (and also accordionists) together with Mario Laginha and Bernardo Sassetti (1970-2012). He is a musician of a long musical career, and of multiple talents, working with fado singers Cristina Branco
and Ricardo Ribeiro
, as well as making his name as poet and translator. He recorded the album Bela Senão Sem
with the orchestra. A review of mine of Brightbird
his latest album (with drummer Samuel Rohrer and bassist Mario Franco) you can find here
João Barradas, now 26 years old, is an outstanding young talent, a virtuoso player of his instrument, a matured ensemble playera new force of Portuguese jazz already He recorded with, amongst others, Greg Osby
, Gil Goldstein
and Portuguese first class tuba player Sergio Carolino
João Mortagua finally is a striking younger generation saxophonist. He has pronounced ideas about the relationship and combination of form, action, style and energy in jazz and a strong urge to give shape to them. His own sextet Axes is a highly movable, volatile and playful dynamic entity with a special line-up of two drums and four saxophones (see more below about Axes).
Maria João (Monteiro Grancha) is a famous voice, face and name with a long career that started internationally in a duo with pianist Aki Takase
and continued internationally with her musical partner, pianist Mario Laginha. With the OJM she recorded the colorful album Amoras e Framboesas
(2011). She is a a highly original, idiosyncratic, stimulating and engaging performer as I could experience in Lisbon and also some time ago in Ljubljana, and last year in Germany in a duo with Brazilian guitarist/pianist Egberto Gismonti
(see my review here
). Maria João is not only a singer performing. She is a performer par excellence in the fullest sense using all senses and parts of the body confluent in her voice. In her keynote the next day she demonstrated that palpable exuberance. Her African-Lusitanian roots fully bloom in her powerful vivacity. According to Maria João herself, it prevented her from becoming victimized throughout her life. In that sense it also was a wonderful completion to the witty humor of last year's keynote of Lebanese ûdist Rabih Abou-Khalil
, who has strong ties to Portugal.
Six Portuguese Showcases
There were two more strong women each following her very own track: trumpeter Susana Santos Silva originating from Porto and long-time member of OJM and vocalist Beatriz Nunes from the youngest generation.
Beatriz Nunes has a very clear, flexible voice and a rhythmically pointed as well as supple flowing way of singing as is evident on her latest just released album Canto Primeiro
with her group and a string quartet (see Europe Jazz Media Chart
. A self-confident person deeply rooted in the musical vernacular of her origin, the Alentejo style of singing in the south of Portugal, she knows quite well what she is doing, what she wants to explore deeply and where she wants to go to. She is different from Maria João but has some qualities in common with her such as quick shifts from low to high and vice versa, her voice elegantly curving, and its delicate girlish tone (the Kate Bush substratum). Playfulness, a special Portuguese touch of melancholy and a kind of dreamy grandeur merge within her music, strong and intense as well as light-footed rhythmical bedding. There is, unmistakably perceivable and audible, some deeply absorbed arabo-brasileiro influence at work in the music. The result is its very own alloy, consistent, shining and charming. A key factor is her excellent group consisting of pianist Luís Barrigas
, bassist Mário Franco
and Jorge Moniz
. Together they make a marvelous feast of her music, a firm entity of itself at the melodic end of the jazz scale. She is singing in her mother tongue, not in an English mask. Naturally accepted when Brazilian musicians do it, Beatriz Nunes shows that it is likewise naturally endearing for a Portuguese singer and adds a new quality to the jazz idiom. She has the guts and capacity to carry it to audiences outside the Iberian Peninsula. Every festival/venue programming her group will have a highly original, audience-captivating act with her.
Susana Santos Silva
Trumpeter Susana Santos Silva performed with her unit Impermanence, eponymous with the first album released with the configuration. It is the most Portuguese group of Santos' many groups (see here
) in terms of participating musicians. All musicians were from Portugal except bassist Torbjorn Zetterberg
, long-term musical partner from Stockholm. The group comprised Joao Pedro Brandao
on alto and flute, Hugo Raro
on piano, Torbjörn Zetterberg on double bass and Marcos Cavaleiro
Susana Santos Silva, working and living in Stockholm and Porto, has become a known name in the European jazz field. She has collaborated and recorded with a multitude of creative key figures in Europe and in the US. I have followed her over the years, watched her impressive perseverance and effort to shape her voice and, out of strong conviction, contribution to collective improvisational processes.
There is much ado around the concept of silence in music in recent years. As a matter of fact silence is the opponent to sound making and as such can be quite significant in musical contexts, for example as a starting point, as interruption or as post-state. Other notions relevant here are disruption, confusion, collapse, fade out, transition, mutation etc., a plethora of possibilities and challenges for real time creation in music, improvisational expansions or detours. Departing from a fixed structure here meant not to play it as accurately as possible to a preconceived end but to actively distort and deform it in a way that again and again new themes and structures would emerge to be worked on in the same way. In doing this intentionally musicians give the audience the possibility to watch it as an interesting, captivating game to be played with wit and sophistication. It was quite daring to present this in the showcase straightjacket.
Distortion was not an end in itself but a method to discover hidden possibilities, to unlock incubating potentials. The musicians were very conscious of form throughout. They densified, accelerated, slowed down and swung into concentrated silence regularly or were marking time. Thereby a lot of attractive sound-gestures and soundscapes were generated, passed by and transmuted. The piece "Sound of Thought" using electronics and field recordings was a kind of soundtrack for a neural network firing at an increasing rate, from which a clear gestalt emerged. Compared to the realization on the album Impermanence
(Portajazz, 2015) pieces worked on in the showcase had more rough, sharp and edgy qualities.
Bode Wilson Trio
The saxophonist of Impermanence, Joao Pedro Brandao
, forms the Bode Wilson Trio together with bassist Demian Cabaud
and drummer Marcos Cavaleiro
. With utmost dedication and submersion/concentration the three musicians played highly remarkable self-sufficient, non-suggestive music, true to the essence of sound, amazingly clearly constructed and filigree, music of great dynamics and remarkable clarity. It had all the elements of rhythm, groove, melody intertwined in a highly sophisticated way. In the way the music came about it had enigmatic traits as indicated by the name of the group. It is like incompletely decoded hieroglyphs. It seems to linger in a (secret) intermediate world. Additionally language with confusing references is used, working as a guardrail for its music, its incommensurability: "The freedom intrinsic to his formation, serve as support for a song that pretends contemplative, changeable and energetic. Sceneries are planned so diverse, as to remember arid landscapes, crowded fairs, a rusty toy or a bush ..." . You can also find that on their latest, excellent album Lascas
, splitters, released by Portajazz (2017).
Pedro Melo Alves' Omniae Ensemble
Twenty-six year old drummer/pianist Pedro Melo Alves from Porto is the vigorous shining Wunderkind of Portuguese jazz. He did not settle for playing his instruments in small-scale configurations. Three years ago he immersed himself in a thorough study of composition at Lisbon Superior School of Music (ESML). In 2016, he won the newly instated Sassetti Composition Award, and, in 2017, he was elected as National Musician of the Year by the Portuguese Jazz Magazine. In 2018, he was selected for the 12Points Festival in Dublin
with his Rite of Trio, a guitarbass drums unit with André Silva and Pedro Louro. Attendees testified that he was the mental and musical whirlwind of the festival. Thus the next ambitious leap was the EJC showcase in Lisbon with his large Omniae Ensemble.
In Lisbon Alves really pulled it all out of the bag, threw it into the arena uninhibited. The seven-piece-ensemble swarmed up in its abundant mixture of neatly structured compositional strongholds and freely cruising satellites cutting through in a dizzying sonic scenery, a scenery too with sliding panels and wild pop-ups. No dull moment, tilting surfaces, rushing drums, lingering intermezzos, soaring horns, solos luxuriating in orchestral beddingsabundant, youthful supererogation. Balanced? Play, play, play, the music will find it's own equilibrium! Here we have a firmly stimulating obligation for cautious presenters in the rest of Europe; it is really something for a young musician to set this up and make it work. C'mon!
Another remarkable young force of Portuguese jazz is saxophonist João Mortagua. Mortagua has pronounced ideas about the relationship and combination of form, action, style and energy in jazz and a great urge to give shape to them. His own sextet Axes is a highly movable, volatile and playful dynamic entity with an exceptional line-up of two drums and four saxophones. It is not a unit that just pulls off its thing. It is a unit with a sonic choreography. It comprises the saxophonists João Mortágua, José Soares
, Hugo Ciríaco
and Rui Teixeira
and the two drummers Alex Rodriguez-Lázaro
and Pedro Vasconcelos
who infectiously whip up the music. The primordial version of this quartet is of course the World Saxophone Quartet of Julius Hemphill
, Oliver Lake
, Hamiet Bluiett
and David Murray
that started in 80s of the last century. The addition of two drummers increases the maneuverability of the unit and gives it a more raw quality especially when a second line emerges, ska (like in "Shiny Axe") or hip-hop beats shine through. Now and then it reminds me of Steven Bernstein
's Sexmob. In short: a highly original concept and a great realization. Axes is a unit definitely ready to take stages way east or up north and shine there too. TGB Vital to the image of trio TGB (tuba, guitarra, bateria) is the tuba of Sergio Carolino. Tuba is a great instrument substantiating and driving all kinds of music. There is a long line of tubistas in jazz, for example Ray Draper and Howard Johnson from the US, Michel Massot and Berlinde Demen from Belgium, Michel Godard from France, Oren Marshall from UK, Martin Taxt and Heida Mobeck from Norway, Daysuke Takaoka from Japan and there is Sergio Carolino from Portugal. Carolino is an internationally operating musician mainly working in classical music but he has a lot of European tuba-connections in improvised music too. Alexandre Frazão is the 'universal' drummer of the Portuguese jazz scene and guitarist Maria Delgado is a key guitarist of the scene, having worked with saxophonist Carlos Martins and the bassists Carlos Barreto and Carlos Bica, with Maria João and Mario Laginha as well as with singers as Cristina Branco and Sara Tavares. The trio that is now 14 years old presented itself as a bluesy kind of sophisticated serious fun on the highest musical and entertaining level.
Fringe at Livraria Ler Devagar (LX Factory), Rua Rodrigues Faria LX Factory is a creative area in a defunct industrial complex of Companhia de Fiação e Tecidos Lisbonense" (Company of Wiring and Textiles) in the Alcântara neighborhood of Lisbon situated under the red 25th of April suspension bridge. It is named after the day the Portuguese Carnation Revolution in 1974 began. The area is comparable to the Telleskivi Creative City in Tallinn. Ler Devagar, the location of the Fringe concerts, is an extraordinary, unique bookstore in the old factory outfit with the highest metal bookshelf constructions you will ever have seen.
In this lovely winsome setting The Fringe Program brought musical aces as the new trio of internationally renowned Portuguese saxophonist Rodrigo Amado, the amazing, inimitable eleven-piece LUME ensemble lead by pianist Marco Barroso, the floating trio of vibraphonist Eduardo Cardinho, and the rich tonally loaded and wheeling Centauri unit of internationally up-and-coming guitarist André Fernandez. The groups covered a broader spectrum from a thorough free improvising unit as the Rodrigo Amado trio to the solid contemporary jazz units Fernandez and Cardinho and LUME hovering above and cruising in between.
André Fernandes André Fernandes is a fairly accomplished musician. He is member of the Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos and has a release with his own group on the highly regarded British Edition label on his sleeve. He is quite actively developing his own projects. The Centauri unit comprises ubiquitous saxophonist João Mortágua and OJM fellow, saxophonist José Pedro Coelho plus the young rhythm section of bassist Francisco Brito and drummer João Pereira. The unit easily, elegantly and energetically combined rocking parts (riffs from The Kinks' "You really got me") with colorful sparkling and melodically soaring parts.
Eduardo Cardinho Bassist Francisco Brito also contributed to the trio of vibraphonist Eduardo Cardinho together with drummer Diogo Alexandre. He lives and studies in Amsterdam. The album Black Hole with his quintet, released 2016, was well received. The trio presented a fresh, solidly crafted set of beautifully flowing music. Cardinho is a solid musician sticking to his last without sounding dated.
LUME Portugal not only has the best surfing waves and sites in Europe. It also has LUME, the Lisbon Underground Music Ensemble lead by composer and pianist Marco Barroso. The 15-piece-troupe throws in the gushing raw energy of roaring Atlantic waves. In terms of temperament LUME is the Fire! Orchestra of the South and the southern brother of The Flat Earth Society from Belgium. LUME has been way north a few times but for urgent climatic reasons it has to happen much more often. It will be the best way to re-balance the circulation and exchange of high and low pressure between the way-up North and way-down South of Europe. LUME played a frantic set in a small provisionally hall of Ler Devagaro. The not-optimal sound made it even better and more fun. At the end of the concert all dust had been whirled up and echo-waves continued to sift through the night -a refreshing reset for the rest of the late/early hours.
Rodrigo Amado Saxophonist Rodrigo Amado is a key voice of great continuity on the Portuguese scene of improvised music. In addition to his Portuguese groups, such as the Motion trio with the remarkable cellist Miguel Mira and (still) young drummer Gabriel Ferrandini, in the long run he built up and maintained strong international collaborations with trumpeter Peter Evans, saxophonist/trumpeter Joe McPhee, trombonist Jeb Bishop, the bassists Kent Kessler and John Hébert and the drummers Chris Corsano, Gerald Cleaver and Paal-Nilsen Love (see my review here). Recently he teamed up with drummer Gard Nilssen, trumpeter Thomas Johansson and bassist Jon Rune Strøm, younger generation musicians from Norway. His latest album is A History of Nothing with Joe McPhee, Kent Kessler and Chris Corsano. Amado is also part of the 9-piece ensemble Lisbon Freedom Unit. It just released the album Praise of our Folley. Rodrigo Amado is one of the few European musicians not only appearing in American polls but also ranking high. He must have something that speaks to Americans.
For the Fringe at Ler Devagaro he made his appearance with a new Portuguese trio collaboration with long time companions bassist Hernani Faustino and drummer Joao Lencastre, both pioneering musicians on the scene. Faustino is the bassist of the well-known Red Trio and Lencastre should be known from his New York collaborations with, among others, Thomas Morgan, Jacob Sacks and David Binney. Faustino and Lencastre play together with pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro (also Red Trio) in the Nau Quartet of saxophonist José Lencastre. The just quartet just released its album Eudaimonia). The quartet just released its album Eudaimonia).
. Amado is a strong as well as supple tenor player who laid down muscular lines. He is a musician that really makes listeners partake quite directly of the growth, the compacting and differentiating of form(s) firmly unfolding in the nascent force field. Faustino and Lencastre in full commitment whipped up firm textures as furrows and fertile soil for Amado's excursion. He succeeded in a beautiful way to bundle and channel the musical energy and shape tonal lines in full clarity. The music was one hundred percent real time creation with all its natural vividness and confident projection. Amado achieved this while remaining true to the music(ians) and true to the listeners.
One-way traffic? It turns out that in the Portuguese scene(s) a close network of musicians and groups with a greater number of stable international collaborations exists, especially with musicians from the US and from France but alsoto a lesser extentfrom Belgium, The Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia. These musicians and groups are also involved in international touring. I know (and also saw myself) Portuguese groups playing festivals/venues outside Portugal, especially in Ljubljana, Belgrade, Wroclaw, Moscow, Copenhagen, Voss and Moers. The stronger presence in the Eastern part of Europe is mainly based on firm bilateral cooperation (like co-programming) on different levels. With other countries it seems there is incongruence in the exchange of musicians/groups. Musicians/groups from the northern and central part of Europe are much more frequently invited to Portugal (and other southern countries too) than the other way round. The center and the north seemingly underuse the southern potentials.
For instance, the Porto festival Jazz No Parque (of the Serralves Museum) this year invited Portuguese saxophonist Rodrigo Amado to put together a Norwegian configuration to play with him at the festival. If this will have counterparts on the Norwegian side or other Northern countries, a better balance could be achieved. More two-way traffic between South and North beyond the existing circumstances is something to strive for. It goes beyond the useful format to present musicians/groups from country X (as a first good step) at venues or festivals. It needs to be taken a step further in the sense that good musicians/groups from all over Europe should be programmed all over Europe on the basis of their musical excellence. The perspective has to be shifted from a prevailing "export- perspective" to a more collaborative exchange perspective. On that basis competition and cross-fertilization could and would really bloom. The Desvio-showcase event in Parede near Lisbon two years ago was a first step in that direction ((see my review here). Hopefully the Lisbon EJC-showcases will be a strong follow-up in that perspective.
Algumas conclusões Every European country has its own peculiar history and way of shaping jazz depending on a plethora of factors. Every European country also has and had its specific colorful key figures. A brand-new book on this topic for all European countries has just been finished and published as a result of an EJN-project lead by Francesco Martinelli: The History of European Jazz. The Music, Musicians and Audience in Context. Equinox Publ.. Every country has its very own sources feeding jazz by its musical traditions that themselves are a long time merging of various influences. Jazz is the 20th century vehicle to escape and deepen a diversity of roots. It is a language or an approach to cope with experiences of uprooting, oppression, exploitation and discrimination. It is the music of urbanization and urban migration.
In my perception there is a special relationship of soberness and exuberance in much jazz from Portugal and a special tension between the conventional and the unconventional. Through many music schools and exemplary educational practices such as that implemented by Orquestra Jazz de Matesinhos the basics of playing jazz are strongly developed. Jazz in Portugal also has strong hidden, cherished and nurtured treasures such as (the music of) the extraordinary pianist Bernardo Sassetti (1970-2012). Sassetti was not even discovered by the Munich label ECM, a label with aesthetics compatible to Sassetti's music. Although Sassetti worked in the UK for a while, labels outside Portugal never noticed him or other great Portuguese musicians. Mariá João, an artist with a strong signature, found her way to non-Portuguese labels by starting to work in Germany in her early career. She recorded in duo with pianist Aki Takase for the Enja label. Another treasure is the strong free-jazz scene that attracts a mainly young audience, not only in Lisbon but also in Coimbra. Zei Miguel is a driving force there and also responsible for keeping the excellent magazine Jazz.pt going together with Rui Eduardo Paes, the editor-in chief from Lisbon. The mentioned characteristics go together with an enduring grass roots spirit that spawned the Lisbon label Clean Feed. Clean Feed fulfilled a pioneering role and still fulfills a crucial connecting and developing function in the international jazz field, especially in the perspective of European collaboration thanks to the enormous creativity and endurance of Pedro Costa. These characteristics seem contradictory at first but primarily "tell" that there is a lot of potential, which actively has to be discovered and wants to be handled with care. The Belém Meeting, brought together and organized with great endurance and diligence by Carlos Martins, Constanze Jürgens and Alaide Costa of Associacão Sons da Lusofonia, offered and delivered a lot to dig and dive into. Novara will be the host of the 6th European Jazz Conference scheduled September 12-15, 2019.
Photo Pedro Melo Alves's Omniae Ensemble -©Henning Bolte