From New Orleans to Portugal, jazz fever arrived and its rhythm spread across the country with great concerts, musicians and summer festivals. This is just another good reason to visit, added to great weather, delicious food and unforgettable sights. If you like Jazz, make sure you choose Portugal as your next travel destination.
But, lets start from the beginning: if you are a jazz addict you must visit The Hot Club Portugal, in Praça da Alegria, Lisbon. This club was one of the main boosters of jazz music in the country and is known as the “House of jazz”.
Considered as one of the best 100 jazz clubs in the World by DownBeat, the American jazz magazine, it is also one of the oldest jazz clubs in Europe -- and the one that has been continuously in operation. In 1945 some jazz enthusiasts started to meet to exchange albums, listen to the latest jazz songs and play. Later, they began to organize informal jazz sessions with Portuguese and international musicians, becoming a very dynamic group of jazz lovers.
In 1950 the group became official under the motto “Jazz Music Divulgation” and the leadership of Luiz Villas-Boas. After that, they started organizing Modern Music Festivals, concerts with famous musicians from Sidney Bechet to Count Basie, album recordings and many jam sessions. Every night, the Ford Perfect of Luiz Villas-Boas stopped at the port and picked up the musicians from visiting cruise ships and they played in the Hot Club all night long.
Nowadays, The Hot Club Portugal works more as a club with a monthly program, and also as a jazz school. Founded in 1979, some of the best Portuguese musicians studied here and make part of the professional musicians of the jazz circuit. You may find them too in the festivals scattered throughout Portugal during the summer.
Flying from Lisbon to Funchal, in Madeira Island, the beautiful Santa Catarina Park host the 14º Funchal Jazz from July 4 – 6. With the Funchal bay as scenery, Chick Corea and the Vigil are in charge of the first night; Santos/Melo 4to + John Ellis and Buika will bright the second and the Portuguese jazz singer Jacinta and Miles Smiles are closing the festival. During the Festival, jam sessions will be held at the 360º Bar Panoramico, on The Vine Hotel rooftop. Every night, the FJF Quartet will be performing live with some of the musicians of the Festival. For those who are always seek for the latest releases, the new talents but also timeless recordings and rarities, don’t forget to visit the Album Fair at Santa Catarina Park.
At the same time, the EDP Cool Jazz Fest starts in the mainland. From July 4 to 27, Oeiras, in the surroundings of Lisbon, hosts the jazz fest that gathers more national and international jazz musicians. Diana Krall, John Legend and the Portuguese talent Luisa Sobral, are some of the names on the 10th anniversary line-up.
Sintra’s Quinta da Regaleira, a palace that is a World Heritage Site hosts the 3rd Jazz Fest of Regaleira, between February 10 and November 2. Looking for the perfect shows that give the opportunity to live the unique atmosphere of this monument. As jazz is a style that leads to imagination and improvisations, different musicians, instruments and voices embrace the sound of jazz and fills Regaleira’s magical walls with good music and performances.
Culturgest, a Portuguese cultural organization, has been asking for the last five years the same question: “Is this jazz?” In each concert people travel through different jazz sounds and new perspectives, quite different from the traditional jazz beats they were used to. This annual cycle has a very important role in the promotion of contemporary jazz among the Portuguese. Between new sonorities and different approaches, this is an excellent cycle to open the doors of a new jazzy world. The next concert is on June 2 with Zanussi 5, led by the Italian-norwegian double bassist Per Zanussi. This quintet is an expression of an affirmative jazz that has combined with other forms of music.
Later in the year, the Azores hold the Angrajazz in Terceira Island, always around the October 5 holiday. Over three nights, Angra do Heroísmo become a spectacular jazz club, with performances from national and international musicians. This is already the most important jazz festival in the islands, which includes some of the best concerts of the year pointed by the Portuguese specialized critic. During the festival, visitors can attend to conferences, exhibitions of instruments, photography, and albums fairs.
Recognized by UNESCO as able to “break down barriers and symbol of peace and unity”, United Nations also refers that “where there are people who fight for freedom, jazz is almost always there”. May the peace be with you: enjoy Portugal and jazz.