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About Jazz Composers Forum - Jazz Composers Forum

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  • About Jazz Composers Forum

     

    Matosinhos is used to being the gateway to the Atlantic, facilitating contacts and exchanges between Europe and America. Based on this example, the Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos planned this cycle of eight concerts focusing on eight important contemporary creators of orchestral jazz, comparing the musical identities of four Americans and four Europeans.

     
    It wasn’t so long ago that the OJM was exclusively a composers’ orchestra, playing the music of its own composers. Since 1999, the musical directors Pedro Guedes and Carlos Azevedo have turned the big band into a test tube to create a national repertoire for this type of ensemble, which was a novelty in Portugal’s music scene. Their new compositions and arrangements made the orchestra an important voice of the new Portuguese jazz for large ensemble.  Furthermore, by playing music written by national composers other than its directors, it became a precious tool in the hands of musical creators.  It is not easy to have access to a group of almost 20 jazz musicians, as experienced playing before the orchestra stands as in the soloists’ role. And so closely linked to the history of jazz in this region.
     
    The OJM is just as determined today as it was a decade and a half ago to involve itself in new big band music, but with a different maturity: that of a band which has cultivated the music of many of the most important composers for large ensemble; with the experience of one which has collaborated with legendary soloists from the country where jazz was born; with the audacity of one which appears side-by-side with symphony orchestras, string quartets or world music singers. These are the qualities that finally make room for a project with the magnitude of the Jazz Composers Forum.  The OJM sees itself as a true composers’ forum, a tool for new music and its promotion.  It provides the audience with the most interesting repertoires for this type of ensemble composed in several latitudes, and places different styles in confrontation or in dialogue with each other.
     
    From across the Pond come quite different music proposals that introduce new blood to big band music: an original mixture of modern jazz and popular music from different eras, with Steven Bernstein and his contemporary view of territory bands; the sophisticated reworking of the big band sound with Darcy James Argue, who introduces textures from pop/rock into it; a unique repertoire with no stylish connotations with the Argentinean, Guillermo Klein, with traditional South-American rhythms, twentieth century classical music or song format; or the countless facets of the American/Swiss composer, Ohad Talmor, who focuses on tradition to give contemporary jazz a new vitality.
     
    Europe is represented by two composers who are famous for founding and directing two of the most prestigious big bands on the continent: the Frenchman, Pierre Bertrand, leader of the Paris Jazz Big Band and a true Mediterranean, and the inspired Belgian melodist, Frank Vaganée, artistic director of the Brussels Jazz Orchestra. They are joined by two names often noted for the way in which they cross all stylistic frontiers in the most sophisticated way: The Englishman, Julien Argüelles, and the German composer, Florian Ross.
     
    In addition to presenting the most important repertoire of each of these authors in monographic concerts taking place at the Cine-Teatro Constantino Nery in Matosinhos, the OJM goes further and commissions from them new works to be premiered at this festival. These eight pieces will then be joined together and released on a CD containing the most recent musical proposals of an elite group of creators, brought to life by this score of musicians who have been meeting every week between Matosinhos and Porto for 15 years.
     
    There will be more in the coming years. The idea is to continue organising subsequent editions of the Jazz Composers Forum, with new guests, confirming the OJM and Matosinhos as a safe harbour for new big band music.