Session 11 – Portugal

Saturday 3 September – 13.00-14.15 (Blue Note)
Chair: Mark Lomanno

Pedro Cravinho – “Clube Universitario de Jazz” of Lisbon A Challenge and an Alternative Jazz Discourse in Portugal Between 1958 and 1961

In 1958, a group of university students belonging to the academic students association established in Lisbon the Clube Universitario de Jazz (University Jazz Club) (CUJ), with the aim to disseminate Jazz music. The CUJ’s life was very short as the Public Security Police sealed it, in 1961.

CUJ started its activity during a period of great social expectation, related to the possibility to change the dictatorial regime, installed in Portugal since 1933. Portugal was preparing what was supposed to be a process of “free elections” and some prior forbidden activities were now allowed. Within this context CUJ became an alternative to the broadcasting of jazz in Portugal using it as a discourse of liberty, specially regarding the status of the Portuguese colonies in Africa. To achieve this aim CUJ published the first Portuguese jazz magazine, organized “jam-session’s”, concert’s and phonograph meetings followed by collective discussion. These activities were carried out by a core group of individuals, including its founder, Raul Calado, who’s main propose was to present a non canonical musical repertoire, usually excluded from the public sphere for political reasons (Jazz, Kwella, and other African sonorities).

Using the contribution of Lawrence Grossberg based on an understanding of the binomial hegemony/resistance as a “transformative practice”, giving rise to bilateral relations and changes, (Grossberg, 1996), I will reflect on the actions of resistance carried out by CUJ, configuring Jazz as the discourse of truth in a period of censorship and repression, and its impact on university students who have attended institutions such as the Casa dos Estudantes do Imperio (House of the Empire’s Students). This paper will explore further the role of jazz as an experience of “human relations ideals”, capable to provide new social realities that are not yet accessible (Turino, 2008).

José Dias – Comunidade Jazzastica (Portuguese Jazz Community) Jazz as Part of the Young Portuguese Democratic Society

Before its democratic revolution, that took place in April of 1974, Portugal didn’t have a jazz community. Jazz was reduced to the likes of a small minority, an elite of academic students, that exchange vinyl records and attended to sporadic concerts in a very small room in Lisbon – Hot Clube de Portugal. It was just recently, by the beginnings of the 2000 decade, that a social network around jazz began to emerge. Today, Portugal has over 22 jazz schools, 4 undergraduate and 2 graduate jazz courses, over 12 jazz festivals, 3 jazz record labels, and an increasing public.

In this paper, I analyze the Portuguese jazz community as part of the young Portuguese democratic society, in the sense that this musical and social network may be, in one hand, the result of a new and larger social structure – a multicultural, dialoguing, constantly questioning, and autonomous society, and in the other hand, may represent a dynamic drive for exchanging musical, cultural and social practices with other European and World partners. And in that sense, the Portuguese jazz community may be both a contributive and recipient part of a new Portuguese national identity.

Luis Figueiredo – Defining Portuguese Jazz: Issues of Musical Identity in Portugal

The hypothesis of a distinctively Portuguese jazz has been a concern of both audiences and opinion-makers surrounding jazz in Portugal for the past few decades. Since the nineteen seventies, when a revolution put an end to a forty-year long dictatorial regime that excluded jazz, a lot has been said and written concerning that hypothesis. Curiously enough, the musicians themselves seem to have kept a distance from this discussion, claiming indifference towards the way their music is labelled. British author Stuart Nicholson talks about “glocalization” and the way jazz has spread worldwide, adapting itself in different ways to different locations (2005). At the same time, the disciplinary discourses of Cultural Studies and Ethnomusicology speak strongly against the study of geographically defined territories, rather advocating the existence of cultural communities (see the works of Bhabha 1994, Hall 2008 and Gutierrez 2010).

How relevant is it to pursue this hypothesis of a Portuguese form of jazz? Is it possible to reach an unequivocal answer regarding its validity? How do musicians view themselves against this backdrop and within the wider picture of national jazz identities?
This paper, which is part of an ongoing work towards a doctoral degree in Jazz Performance and Ethnomusicology, will focus on a first generation of professionally active musicians in Portugal (namely the pianists) in order to explore the idea of a national form of jazz, and challenge the notion of musical identity. It will draw on relevant bibliography and fieldwork.

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