Bob Brookmeyer New Art Orchestra

If we intended to establish a set of ideas that might manifest themselves as a quest to negate reality (situated in a
deliberate posture and perspective at the most dominant moments of modern times), we would encounter in Jazz
some answers that, not meaning anything, would counter the tendency for global acceleration that troubles us.
The parody of return/revolt is one of infinite movement to somewhere at the speed that sustains current artistic
creation and is contained in the instant space of many projections. In the same way, the set of daily activities that
react as if they were looking for new ways to flee (whatever the escape routes) bring to an end the ‘period of
authenticity’ of the content, in case it has not already been described or paraphrased away, in a ritual of sudden
death. Meaning responds to that which emerges under the weighty form of inversion, given the tendency to
interpret the successive, constant increments in speed that, in music, become extremely ephemeral actions,
leading to nothing less than the glorification of the exalted state of intense planetary mobilization. The centre of
gravity of this return/revolt resides in whatever we might be able to show, select or point out in the midst of that
enormous torrent of daily images that gather all bunched up under the scrutiny of the senses and the ability to
assimilate. It matters that we be able to grab from visually saturated surfaces some contrary-minded forces
found in the cracks of small moments, in isolated spaces of immobility where it is possible to feel the rhythms of
survival. To find the right path to counter the centripetal attraction contained in the space deemed necessary for
invention (so that we can establish ample interactive dialogues with the arts) is what we need to consolidate a
new proposed vision. A contemplative attitude, astutely positioned at moments of calm and pushing away
activist, volunteer and persuasive reality, may be able to squeeze the blockage of irrevocable pro-active situations,
where boredom thrives in lethargy dominated by synthetically imposed reality - an obligatory and uniform
movement that instils a generalised state of unshakable depression which blocks the viewing of rapid movements,
let alone appearances. He who lets himself be pushed by social tendencies is walking on a vast body of inert and
decomposed matter where the feelings linking desires and pleasures can perceive neither their results nor the
gradual loss of the acuteness of the senses. The resulting spiritual state rests on the ceaseless procreation of
integrating interest groups, which complicates or annihilates the individual’s ability to overcome. This opens
wounds in the compulsive condensation of certain actions in moments of sublime generalised imitation, which is
an integral part of life nowadays. This reality suggests an ease and passivity released in the comforting alienation
among machines and the audio-visual (with the haemorrhage of the will spilling out everywhere) in which the
image of the new social contract is represented via the ridiculous, bureaucratic proposals of organised life
according to a common global process which is no more than a widened system of (un)qualifying the individual.
Organisations support themselves in the same people who, in an attitude of extreme obedience and more or less
ignorant, participate in the so-called ‘collective feeling’ and in its social rarification and refraction. Everything
constitutes a key point in its personal void where imaginative development is not permitted. Only via the
preparation of a serene and useful individuality can important sensory experiences of assimilation be
experienced. When it becomes possible to save impositions on all types of behaviour from perishing under the
torrents of social imperatives, we can then avoid drowning in the over-processing of production where each one
appears as a bearer of more correct and concrete performances. In order for us to maintain ourselves in the
permanent, ever-insipient state of current events, preparing for the ludicrousness of small daily pleasures
represented in situational elements of everyday living, we must fearlessly manage that which humiliates us and
paralyses us. Panic is focused on actions of searching for individualization that appears unreachable as the
unattainable task, inviting the demise of our critical faculties and permitting the enormous weight of implicit
acceptance to predominate a widened consensus of ideas without solutions of return. The work of Bob
Brookmeyer is a lesson of deep learning on how to proceed as a cultural orphan, created by the intensity of
modes that act grotesquely on our imagination, in ignorance and in generalisations. Learning is an act of
disfiguration although the dark façade manages to maintain the apparent beauty of an unmoving smile.

Jason Moran

Whatever intends to take itself on as the force of a sovereign, totalitarian, expansive and planetary entity is faced
with the fact that we are imprisoned by the most “anti” of discourses. These apparently opposite movements can
reduce to a high-speed void that which is always reappearing as inconsequential, the same state of apathy and
giving up that is found in society nowadays. Its content takes shape in a set of terminal ideas that are part of the
seminal affirmation of the member. The rhetoric rehashed at the cost of some outmoded idea of renewed focus
on the crises of the world imposes on those people incapable of redefining and acting on themselves (which limits
us to perform social and collective simulations) a paralysing ritual resulting from the permanent erasing of its
basic problem, which is compounded by the elimination of those who are different, and this loss of identity holds
us back and causes new agents of fear to grow. By engaging with those who show zeal for opinion and who linger
in the shadows of daily life, people are acting in conformity and in annoyance with what is being dished out for
immediate consumption, appealing to impressive hoards of individuals to nourish their petty subsistence in the
most elementary of things. These new agents of run of the mill culture glorify themselves as fetish personalities of
contemporary heroes and materialize along with the makers of these moments of selfish tension. Coming forth in
association with the idea of progress and well-being is the void that exhales in the midst of an atmosphere under
attack by those who know better and promote foolishness, the rhetoric of organised discourse covered in the
phantasmagorical spectre of global development. These are the extreme, unshakable points of this impossible
state of limitation that the excess of words tries to hide. When our increasingly over-pathetic performance no
longer enthrals the crowds, themselves busy with petty desires to satisfy intellectual needs that bring about
infantile fantasies and worldly pleasures, true moments of happening take place in which nothing else is left to us
except to stir up change. In the apathy that congregates like a full set of automatic normative attitudes, there is
an express subcategory of vain words that leaders, who dedicate only a minimum of effort in all discourse to the
contrary, know how to use. Language is jesting and serves only to cloud the facts, which do no more than intend
to lift to the skies a notion of life as an apologetic image for the present times. In the swift traffic of words, in the
dizzying current of metaphors, in the automation of the commonplace, in the mediocre landscapes of knowledge,
we find elements that compose phrases of rhetorical plasticity, accompanied by shapeless practices and customs
that do not allow for critical opinions. Whoever finds himself uninterested in these questions and whoever can
easily separate ecstasy and amazement can let himself be pulled away by the grand fixation on the anti-dream,
this being the ambition goal of all discourse. The person cannot find himself in the retouched expression of this
subject type (the liberal man) because it is the character that sees himself again in the implosions of ideologies
produced in the last century, living on an faraway island surrounded by redemption whose deserts persist in the
immensity of actors invented out of the insignificant narratives accumulated in our history. What may turn into
the ultimate respectable entity of a bland and fleshless society will have to be able to represent those tentacled
organisations that present themselves as the most perfect expression of the collective rational spirit. When new
spheres of relationship and hope are persistently being sought, building social structures that permeate and
increase the task of salvation, one forgets that the most important are the higher qualities of commitment,
energy, vitality and expressiveness embodied in the art created by man. Thus, the solitary performance shape is
chosen on the path which calls for the establishment of an individual course of realisation. The music ofJason
Moran has this awe-inspiring capacity to be linked to the real world, to values and experiences, liberating us
from the tasks that are necessary for us to establish a correspondence between the artistic representation and life,
advising the music no tot get carried away unless the complicit listener agrees to live the experience.

Ralph Alessi Quartet (with Jason Moran)

Men are ineffective at directing themselves, which results from the fact that they can do little more than facilitate
models of obedience and civil humiliation that strive neither for the differentiation of the individual nor in favour
of any feature regarding individual freedom. In the context of a supreme fad that permanently protects and
recruits new slaves, we do the best we know how. When the machinery of exploration is activated, even that
which is so amusing in our society’s most anti sector, reconstituted hybrid beings (recognisable by their savoir
vivre) abound with amorphous sensitivities. This is a passable model for a paradigm of uniform taste called
‘public’. An air of mistrust is installed, meaning that the one is charge is the one being led in what would be
better off handling the synthesis of this little world of flux and reflux. The shadow produced by the continued
state of submission is reduced to that which exists as an object of envy, nothing excludes the strange possibility of
the contradictory established between every distinct desire and its reformation into a new desire. Via the robust
and absolute relationship between power and property, the weight of what one does not have turns out to be, in
reality, the popular manifestation of desire, the permanence of the ridiculous, powerful belief that unites the true
owner with his loved object. Things that redefine property as opposed to protection of a universal right to
ownership, in an absolutely decadent world, convey spatial distance between the object and catastrophe, in terms
of the event that will eventually be its doom. It is impossible to measure the scope. The fad emerges as an
expanded process of imitation, the facilitating means to meet in uniform processes that provide all the antidotes
to resolve contradictions and the necessary banalities that put off change as an apocalyptic unleashing looms.
What motive prevents the proliferation of uncontrollable bouts of greedy aggression? Why are there repeated
explosions of social energy of mounting wickedness? The fragment of this insect-like act (from which stems the
compulsive aggressiveness of suicides) can be confused with the thoughts of those who never consider such a
thing, creating a sticky, stubborn material that unexpectedly overruns our day-to-day actions and encounters the
words and structures of daily presence, interaction and acceptance which are constantly being remade inside the
modern idea mechanism of intensive mobilisation. The extensive movement of expanding hopes takes shape in
more consumption and more progress. Images point to copies that reappear constantly wander through a
radioactive sunrise, stretched to simplifications, to residual dynamic composures of affection whose lack of
criticism allows for a second glimpse at how a moment was destroyed. Time has passed over many empires and
over many a well-meaning social order, yet it never knew what to make of its ruins, that redeeming energy of the
past, the hope that men always retrieve and proclaim but cannot help us to understand the actual elements
needed to achieving consciousness. The more reasonable thing would be to promote a rupture with this
permanently delayed past so it should stop making bold plans for an aging, over-civilised human world, one on
the verge of some paralysing attack, and rather make itself available to relive new histories as if everything had
happened without suffering or happenings. What keeps us from overcoming the final blockages as we achieve
final change is found in the possibility of pushing away what is fundamental, the absolute fascination with the
limit, the end and the going. Nothing will remain of this feeling of annihilation unfolding between our
abundance of material and our agglomeration of objects. Life implies many changes in formulating the senses
and in the representations that they may interpret, seeming to exist in a total will to understand an inefficient
and useless salvation methodology. The end is reorganised over top of the beginning and over the limits, the
immense flood of the new is upon us, like a moment that quickly passes like its ephemeral origin. Everything runs
carelessly in the direction of compulsive risk at any moment, sweeping away the passages in a sea that remakes
itself, in the birth of more happenings in our daily lives. In the music of Ralph Alessi there exists a strange
allegory, immediately clear in the scattered seed that includes the defrocking of death. As the sole attraction that
we possess to keep ourselves alive as the end swirls about us, there remains the possibility that we might convince
ourselves that at whatever the cost, a day of reckoning will come for all that has transpired around us. If we
decide to blot out all that it reveals, adding a new bit to the necessary whole that glorifies the consumption of the
dullest things, we will be destined to immediate extinction. Thus, what would remain would be the final
semantics of ridiculous things and apocalyptic crises, expressed in the potential for breakage, destroyed by
vandals that incessantly support bland imitations and make of our modernism their own private ammunitions
dump - the falseness of innumerable ancient events that the accumulation of power reminds us, the grandiose
flops, the true fiascos of our history.

Dave Liebman

There is an analogy in the history of heresies. Fanatics frequently reinvent the doctrines of previous sects without
realising it, and many movements in art have a tendency to share in this anti-intellectualism, adopting
pronouncements and calls to arms in regard to the absolute meaning of the initial idea of apocalypse. The
creative possibilities of men were cultivated and chaotic times were lived in without there being worries about
continuity, not even with the past which are the cause of such fascination nowadays. In all great works there
exists a transversal delirium formed by features reflected in the languages used (which can be picked up on)
when talking about the newness that each one brings. The New is always a reality that affects the past entirely
because nothing can be new by itself, remaining, as it were, subject to a deadline, a period of time able to hold
the ‘tension of attraction.’ The sensation of surprise, in a less durable context of all feelings and aesthetic
responses, is what modernity is all about, making it such that new categories of possible forms are always being
discovered but not new reactions. This does not suggest that creativity is totally bound to the idea of making
something exquisite because there will always be rediscoveries and fruitful re-evaluations that can put up for
second analysis certain suggestions and reuses of the present past. This is what explains the difference between
Schoenberg’s music and music by happenstance. However, when we feel that after so many failures that we do no
have a singular way of looking at the world, there seems persist a feeling of total loss of meaning where the
absurd does not let us understand what is around us. At this moment, an attitude of negation is released, an
apocalyptic sunset that is part of the modern order, which follows us and always has, and appears a bit too close.
This responds to its own vitality in what happens via recounted facts - a torrent of stories that turn into truth
which put order back into our fears and desires. Sometimes ironic, other times sceptical and other times denied
to the nth degree, the artistic object becomes a permanent object that joins ideas, a grasping at metaphysics that
underlies the arts and that sinks in the crisis, and about the crisis, goes from failure to failure in radical, negative,
post-modern appeals. Never did anyone want to abolish something relevant, except for the denied moment, in
favour of keeping awareness alive. What we have before us is not the end of art but the transformation of its
functions. Currently what artists and musicians are doing is honing the way they perform reality without falling
under religious connotations, via an activation of the consciousness as a way to organise new models of
sensitivity. They stopped using those traditional practices that were left to them and had to become conscious
aesthetes, challenging the means, the materials and the methods. Their path went beyond the sounds of
instruments; they changed routines and devised synthetic sounds and noises. The speed of the senses, as well as
the aspects of assimilation and understanding, intensely put contexts to the test and established a new period of
creative accumulation that sparked sensitivity via wildly accessible mass-produced objects. Current works, rich in
meaning, acquire a deeply personal aspect when compared with the romanticism and sentimentality of the past.
The rigours of the associated background search and the analyses of the problems being addressed turn what the
author is owner of into an idea or concept. Whoever intensely explores a work of art feels a change in
consciousness and sensitivity, altering his way of looking at the world, feeding his specific notions and sentiments
that we all acquire in our education and upbringing. The author is at the same time owner (explaining the
protest as retreat from stimulation) and commitment, at a time when nothing is acceptable and it is not worth
arranging arguments. The flow of general conformist rhetoric gets ordered in an irrelevant way and is revealed in
the miserable inability to live in one’s body and to live and die in it. Thus, disenchantment is a well-known
excessive pose and very much in vogue with contemporary intellectuals whose lack of goodwill in establishing
unadulterated dialogues was replaced by the possibility of feeling of living outside the freedom of morality and
learning. The definitive abandonment of approving or disapproving of everything that happens took place. An
annoyance is a word that can only be used for a certain type of frustration. Tha languages spoken by people who
claim to explain what music and the creative process are about do not listen and for the most part are a clear sign
of poverty. The work of Dave Liebman represents the art of today in its refusal of accessibility and demands of
effort for those who want to get wrapped up in it, direly seeking understanding. Generalities and classifications
spatter and sully nature and compartmentalise culture by inserting noise and contamination.

Maria Schneider Orchestra

People live in a little patch of space/time. What can influence events on this reduced relational surface is set as
the difficult time cooperating of identities separated by the constraints of language. The attempt to develop a
“final vocabulary” is played out in discourse that distinguishes and differentiates in the rapid process of
circumstantial changes that we push forward. When we understand the movements around words, located in the
space between appearance and reality, what emerges is what Wittgenstein refers to as vocabularies “that are
human creations, instruments for the creation of other human artefacts such as poems, utopian societies,
scientific theories and future generations.” The way these products take shape, which is for art in general the task
at hand, exults in the creation of a vocabulary that expresses truth and untruth, never aimed at convergence. In
this way, diversity reveals itself in numerous phrases applied to the search for forms of expression distinct from
those currently in use. A new reality can be dominated by metaphors where the doing and the novelty are both a
victory. However, what stands out at this juncture is the struggle and the triumph of diligent research, successful
in formulating a network of meaning that provide the contexts and refinement of expression, clarifying
relationships and contrasts amongst those who do not speak to one another. The representation is something that
can appear in one way correct and silent, granting the fact that each person knows how to adopt and modify all
those things that the authors observed, read and listened to. This activity of so-called culture becomes a struggle
against the fear that knowledge will disappear - an attempt to make more widespread the appreciation of each
individual’s idiosyncrasies in a common, confused vision that remains clear through grandiose emotions that
resolve the questions of introduced by the fear that nothing can be accomplished. Whoever spends his life
answering questions about knowledge can certainly appreciate this potential important way or banishing the fear
that all answers will become extinct. When we review the descriptions on the variety of objects that we have
access to, events may take place that bring forth the use of new words or interpretations that block the
formulation of new questions with the old language. And herein lies a distinguishing characteristic of ours. The
vocabulary game, and its confrontational aspect, lead us to the exploration of other analytical prospects with
wider and wider extra-planetary scope. In communication on a grand scale and in informational networks that
can be changed we alter and replace language and freedom with the recognition of our constraints. The creative
person’s fear is that he has nothing more left to create. The artistic task resides in the act of cutting and denial of
sequences which, (when recreated in their void, removing the rotten rhetoric and destroying itself with lame
tactics of persuasion) may not coincide with a given moment of singular personal maturity. In this way, they
achieve the sublime act of rejecting redemptory images, the extinguishing of the will in chops of little beliefs and
desires that no longer compel us to act. Only by reading, observing and listening can we expand our contacts and
reconcile our doubts about the character we have and which facet of ourselves we display open to the public. We
all are afraid of becoming prisoners to the discourse in which we were raised and which is ours. Heidegger drew
on his experience of communication, trying to avoid being learned, suppressing the use of words that had lost
their lustre, those that were reduced to a nearly invisible state due to their overuse. When the new invention
becomes commonplace, it is reduced to the status of mere instrument for the realisation of an external end to
your initial goals. Taking into account the work of Maria Schneider, it is understandable how a work can be
equally unclassifiable and unconventional, defying the usual minimum criteria. This phenomenon can explain
the effort necessary to accomplish a finer synthesis of received gatherings, denying the need to group similarities
and differences so that they will not suffer the dulling of careless or utilitarian use of languages in the way that a
state of maximum expression is reached (extemporaneous and dislocated, as in starting off with great difficulty)
as something that might translate into a liberating final transparency.

Jason Lindner, Bill McHenry, Omer Avital and Daniel Friedman

It is feared that the right of self-expression, the freedom to express one’s desire to create in its purest and
strongest form, something common to all individuals, might one day be lost, snuffed out the way so many men
and other creatures incompatible with the ultimate plans of certain societal elements once were. Art is yet
another voice linked to the object it embodies. Through the concept of valuing, everything that can exist by virtue
of its own characteristics, independent of stance, quality or the social milieu that created it, causing a distancing
effect that more and more inevitably pulls the work of art from its initial context. This dearth of space associated
with this consistent flaw of time causes a separation of nature which, when taken to its logical conclusion, opens
the person possessing the feelings and actions up to risk, weakening interpretive reading and analysis, blocking
the organisation of defences against the sharpness of permanency. It is certainly advisable not to count the
uncountable, neither is it wise to presuppose that there exists a central point in the universe through which
everything is measurable and changeable via some eternal heavy structure. Given that it is preferable (since we
want the best results) to apply to each context our own humble individual critical methods, those that are more
uncompromised and lighter and that adapt better to the flighty volatile contexts of our current world, it is easy to
get swept away when we encounter new concepts of humanization in a social structure that emerges from
impersonal sources and does not spark even the slightest idea of progress or evolution - it is a worn-out classical
model that serves to study, identify and classify what can be isolated through more permanent features. When
situations start becoming more familiar or present in our world, this apparently beneficial fact makes it such that
we are impressed by this event and we lose the capacity to repair or rewrite the content of the situation. Everyone
talks of reasons of the heart, of the moral or spiritual nature of things, of the sublime or the profound, of the
vision that is acquired in the special fields of wisdom and understanding, interacting in unison with the universe,
an infinite number of relationships that allow us to make the link between unchangeable movements created by
the ties that bind those who are born to those yet to be born. A seamless chain can be felt that underscores this
contrast, creating deep differences and even violent antagonisms between understanding and the set of situations
expressed with sceptic realism and dogmatic authoritarianism. Despite all the changes between the internal and
the external, the knowledge of limits of imagination and thought persists - it is a confrontation with the external
pattern that divides and fragments the truth. There is no more time for the visions of unity in the experience of
history, as if it were possible to truly know what resides in the incommunicable beliefs of a wise man. The music
of Jason Lindner, Bill McHenry, Omer Avital and Daniel Friedman indicates that nothing can be
foreknown because a patch of unexamined, submerged life remains permanently out of reach from the
innumerable inroads of fear, applied through complex networks of relationships. The fiction that let us see what
was escaping from us, showing an awareness of interaction between the ponderable and its opposite, that which
we encounter every day, was teaching us to resolve conflict and find situations of balance in what can be seen and
in what limits us. What functions and is compatible, what can be reconciled with the irreconcilable, what is lived
and what the goals let us attain - this does not aid in finding a solution nor a resolution to the problems that daily
life poses because we act in a certain way and not another and because we arrange our lives as if there existed
only one single determination that can help us attain the slightest level of certitude. Awareness that truth is
lacking, something which causes irreparable damage to the patches of life of each individual and to the way we
are blocked by certain types of reactions, opens up an alternative horizon as in one single great school of
EDITION: Guimarães Jazz Annual Journal 2005 - Câmara Municipal de Guimarães/ Associação Cultural Convívio/ A Oficina     DATE: November 2005 


When we talk about reaching certain harmonizing visions that surpass the difficulties encountered along life’s
path, we are focusing on what they have in common relative to their placement in time. The practice of treating
the past as a present case, when this very idea can be associated with the future, evokes the aspect of ‘the
complementary’, which lays before us the issue of having to deal with ideas that appear to our minds as old and
outdated. This source of stimulation (which we will have to ignore or reject if some error should cause
discontinuity to persist among events within a certain framework) makes it so that everything that we experience
appears in a moment that, being visible and sustained by innumerable obvious forms of expression, can bring us
something novel. The New is not a concept critical of a work-in-progress, which wants the feeling of hope to be
lost during the search for other markers of worth beyond those of the current state. It is impossible to discuss
what has just emerged without taking into consideration that we are using an antiquated language form. There
is, however, a tendency for us to act in a generalised way in relation to the analyses we make, without our being
aware that, in fact, something can take shape before us that alters our connections to the past. The endless
transition of time does not stop as stories become affixed in the memory; we appreciate that stories will withhold
their explanation of the troubling pauses, the lapses in understanding, the ruptures, the acquired safety of
knowledge and we plod along without encountering satisfactory clarification of the final complementary aspect
of all events. Thus, the task of establishing causal relationships in the various phases through which events pass -
between important moments that appear in a certain period, season, era or context of a specific aesthetic
movement - becomes difficult especially when the harmony achieved is merely a simplified ordering, a hierarchy
that is subject to and dependent on what is being accomplished. As for applying self-criticism to an ever-
changing world, it is not easy to do so by personal intervention, which is increasingly insufficient to stop the
unravelling of events. A non-apocalyptic idea does not transfigure the tendency for expression via a generalised
state of permanent screams, revealed as a feeling of wide-spread impotence that fools the world’s understanding
as it pertains to the hapless, formless, out of time passion it reproduces. The programme for Guimarães Jazz is
dominated by all these types of conjunctures, which have thus far coloured our evaluations. Nothing can be
brought into play without provocative irony because ‘the new’ is always unintelligible, and the perception that
only a minority in an already limited number of people understands this fact does little to relieve the anguish that
we feel, even under self-reflection. If ‘the new’ fails to reflect anything at all and if it is only defined in terms of a
strange bond linked to the future of which only small number of people can understand the meaning by stripping
away its most remote and hidden past, it is because the work of art has features that we will never be able to
understand or dominate. What is new implies a certain powerlessness and awareness about the past that,
obviously, can be used by everyone as a natural step in understanding. We tend to reread about what critical
successes this Festival has provided over the years, meaning that if we had spent time worrying about
establishing fictions of harmony - elements to encourage unanimity on time-ordering discourse - we would still
be scrambling for answers on how to integrate performances in a reality based on a common end. Guimarães
Jazz would never have sparked so much tension nor created the right ‘atmosphere of rupture’ - which engenders
those crucial, favourable moments of growth and consolidation - if we had made certain compromises. Our
decisions turned out to be well-founded and justifiable. What was unable to join in with our state of agreement
and harmony tended to fade away and die.
One of the most important aspects of Guimarães Jazz is the number of unforeseen events and consequences that
came to pass: the emergence of alternative dialogues, interesting and useful narratives that promoted wider
opportunities. What happened was the resurgence of the general phenomenon of rejection and integration that
happens every year amongst the backdrop of jazz, the musicians and the performances. In this context, the
possible emergence of new reactions and new cycles of events created the necessary conditions for developing and
unravelling renewed interpretations. For art in general, if we accept an idea as being contained inside an
affirmation of reality (with content necessarily being the most important), it is because this mental deduction
applies itself to everything that is being built up as part of the programme. The interest level should not trickle
away into back corners nor into questions of each year’s concert scheduling. The present moment (which is
always clearest in our minds), the influences from other festivals, the rich descriptions written by journalists and
the conversations of other Festival-goers all trigger other analyses and new discussions that end up focusing
almost exclusively on the time and space that is the Festival, with nothing being achieved without suffering
certain consequences in some mistaken areas. When we try to establish order and design on this present time,
structuring the programme for Guimarães Jazz 2005, we find that we are on a path of crisis, a slippery slope of
decisions which can be interpreted in a variety of ways. This apparent bumpiness stems from the need for
something to be said about the meaning of the crisis and to express it publicly via the press and in conversations
amongst people. We believe that this moment can become a central underlying element that galvanises broad
support due to the event’s uniqueness. When jazz begins to be taken to the extreme limit of its own existence -
ingested by other musicians positioned in a more consistent type of historical unit, subject to a catastrophic
transition to another culture that others have already experienced - we also understand that the unravelling of
events behind these apparently negative viewpoints can be the knee-jerk realisation of the limits of our
endeavours. It is always difficult to understand why we are not entitled to construct a programme that attempts
to reflect an over-all apocalyptic sensitivity when this strange form of expression appears so teasingly in clearly
expressed terms of an era where critical moments can be a beginning just as easily as an end. When we are
confronted with our current fears - faced with the scepticism of depictions of horror, with the grotesque poses of
the men in power, with profoundly decadent images, with the profuse lack of confidence in organisations and
with the dejection of revitalisation occurring at huge costs and on all levels - we understand how we are encircled
in a moment of supreme openness, in a epoch that wishes to transform itself but cannot recover. Our innocence is
lost, the one that existed at the time when we did not have to give the least justification for listening to jazz, now
yielding to an increasing awareness of the possible loss of values around us and a decline in influence. How
wonderful a task it would be to devote ourselves to defending the ideas of all those who live for and speak about
jazz as an art form that has earned its place, one on which we bestow the human significance of radical freedom.
What we consider to be excessive must be put aside at the least appropriate times out of necessity and current
practice. Our habit of getting close to a work of art with a receptive attitude toward interpreting it feeds the
fantasy that there is more to be seen in the notion of content, a higher determination residing the object on which
excessive emphasis is placed. “There are no facts, only interpretations,” said Nietzsche, alerting us to the danger
of becoming unable to understand a certain phenomenon and unable to find the necessary equivalent to preserve
the reality that surrounds us. With this presupposition, the programme of Guimarães Jazz cannot be appreciated
as something delivered up to chance or bound to a certain sense or direction already contained in previous
festivals. If there existed overt disdain at what has taken place up to now, the resulting reality would lack for any
plausible meaning and any interpretation coming from such a background would be impertinent, treacherous,
conservative and spectacularly lame.
Katrine Madsen and the Dannish Radio Orchestra

What attracts me about decadence is that it gives everyone the chance to laugh at permanent self-
disillusionment. In this state of refusing to live according to so-called current patterns, we will always have to
exceed out own limits as an expression of the act of overcoming something by employing destruction. Not going
beyond the borders of our little worlds or not expecting much from them (negating a considerable part of all
those barriers and leaving behind the normal circle of ephemeral things) reminds us of those that turn questions
of aesthetics into chit-chat about cash-value, forcing artists to sell their work as if it were everyday merchandise.
Decadence is the key point of this passage; it is the precise moment we feel we have stopped living the balance
between the useful and the necessary. Everything that can be defined as useful has a clear tendency toward
degeneration; it lives under the lowest benchmark of survival. The more something useful is handled by the forces
that form opinion, the more this object becomes a simulation. Sometimes it seems that we are living beneath a
train station - every time the engine car passes it shakes us and our defenceless bodies feel the vibrations on the
rails. We shiver and feel unsafe, unable to react for fear that we are about to be fatally run over. This moment of
danger is transformed into a far-reaching scream of powerlessness that announces the overwhelming loss of unity
amongst all forms of past lives. We cease to be men who directed our own behaviour according to norms we
learned as human beings worried about “civil and social responsibilities”. We have lost forever the meaning of the
coherent world explained via a process of evolution and progress in which we are only small players in a universe
in crisis. Foucault thought that the true history of men had been too short and at that moment he was an obsolete
being. But really, what thing is not obsolete anymore? The time of ruptures has ended; we wish to live in peace
and we prefer not to be given roles that have nothing to do with our own selves. Given the fact that we have grown
tired of grand prophecies and impossible missions, that our desire is to be just simple folk who choose neither
God nor the Devil, not wanting to take part in anything special and not really interested in the history of man nor
in the future, perhaps now men can be transformed into beings responsible for something that can be perfected
once they have stepped down from leadership roles. We might be able to think that this is due to the level of
sophistication and understanding that we have attained as part of our grand civilisation and in the pushing
forward of extraordinary forces that we are unable to control. Being thus, everything could still turn out quite
badly. We will never overcome the image of the man in the street, common and rude who probably will be just
another ordinary consumer who will never worry about untainted sounds, stripped of human meaning. The
majority agrees that we live in a pluralistic world, able to accept all happenings without hesitation, and this
makes for instant forgiveness since, in principal, everything is forgivable. From there, we are then allowed to fool
ourselves and others in the same way that the speed of change tends to devalue the effects the changes
themselves. In this way, we are watching the daily demise of The New, that which appears like a moment of
overcoming the reality of the creative force embedded in the supreme art of being a man who is ready to practice
acts of heroism in a changing global society. We are sons of the present time, of the eternal day, of the fixed stare,
of the gesture frozen in time, of the failed act…we are in the space described by Baudelaire when he wrote in The
Flowers of Evil: “Modernity is transitory, fickle, contingent, only half the art of which the other half is the eternal
and immutable.” The music of Katrine Madsen and the Danish Radio Orchestra is reflected in a sense of
ambivalence and ample juxtaposition of values between these two important moments.

Art Ensemble of Chicago

By making a choice we are accepting all the responsibilities that go with that action. Face to face with the
knowledge that the results may be totally different from our initial expectations, and accepting the consequences,
we must ask ourselves that if we make a mistake, will the thought immediately come to us, asking what our next
move will be, since we made our choice freely? There are days when the amount of fear caused when the mind
opens to all the possibilities of freedom is great and repels any attempt to suppress it. Passing over the platform
of self-understanding repeals and annuls the action of choosing because when a reference that can help us reflect
on the proper steps to take is lacking, a void emerges in style which assumes a wholeness of the decision to be
taken. In the context of the creation of a work of art, style translates the will of the artist who wishes to
exhaustively explore all the possibilities of imagination, being able to concoct any number of variations on a
theme. What results from these decisions on the aesthetic features of the work is also what confines the work,
limiting it with rejections left for elaboration later. Repetition becomes form, revealing an essential part of the
work that emerges as intelligible and as aiding in it understanding. The possibility of gathering various
impressions as sets of immediate stimuli which can be memorised is something that may influence future artistic
choices, which creates something that many people call style. The difficulty caused by the fact that styles develop
slowly and evolve gradually over long periods of time (with necessary moments for the public to fully absorb and
support the mechanism of repeated exposure) is one of the most important aspects that helps to define the
present times. Since things happen so rapidly nowadays, such that we hardly have time to breathe, the process of
assimilation needs time to reach completion but elements in the work that are repeated, for lack of time, may
become lost in the surroundings and thus go unnoticed or be unintelligible. In order to capture everything in the
process we must be properly prepared to take in the content and be ready to discover the principles of variety and
redundancy. All expressions of style are a means at the artist’s disposal to insist on something. The most powerful
works of art are those that transmit an idea which the author had no other way of expressing except in that exact
form, which is highly infused with his style. Clearly, it is not enough just to pose the question of knowing which
choice is right or wrong. All decision-making is limiting, especially when we want to interpret aesthetic concepts.
Individual effort and commitment are insufficient have the analysis rise above a simple personal viewpoint. The
best moments are always those free of self-serving interests. The rhetoric that results from power, in the end,
serves only bring us to unanimity that, for as attractive as it may be, cannot be understood (except in a cursory
way) in the richness of the details of the action let alone help to possess a true vision of today’s reality. Critics,
generally speaking, are a shackle on progress and show themselves to be insensitive to interesting and creative
aspects. When we feel that there is a clear lack of interest in the creative process, in that which is ground-
breaking, so different in quality and scope as to be avant-garde, it is easy to see that the tendency is to pigeon-
hole contemporary art as a set of alienated actions, les than human in their form, mechanical in their
presuppositions, slapped together in the pain-free exploration of the artist’s inability to find consensus in this
feelings. This weakness is such that the artistic movement is set in a type of power structure based on acquired
formal features. Understanding the world demands courage, taste for adventure, toughness against loneliness
and keen thought free of resentment. Alienation as a languishing by-product of our intelligence pursues us,
pushing our greatest doubts up to our faces - rejections of a dualistic vision of culture - a consequence of the
various institutional structures that surround us and leave us anything but neutral. It is men who control and
foment this intellectual alienation; they live value patterns in a vision that rejects dissidence. Art viewed as an act
that might bring salvation through a curious and ambitious process of catharsis seems to have been abandoned
in favour of a technique of political role-playing. When critical skills are established, people’s attitudes seem to
move as in a game, a fighting strategy seen as a manipulative activity that uses different schemes for
confrontation in which players can strike different blows. Language is the metaphor to analyse these moves. The
analyses do not prove anything about the content or the goals that they explore just the fact that a certain
ordering of a mental position must be verified, based on the idea no universal truth can exist in regard to
relationships that may develop between music and the listener. The narratives that result are models that
confirm the variability in the gap between musical experience and person taste. However, narratives are also
logical descriptive systems that bend the rules of the game when tensions and contradictions begin to surface.
Distance in personal experience, in terms of safety in facts and feelings, is an essential structuring moment in
discourse that lets itself be brutally purged for the sake of what it stands for. The music of theArt Ensemble of
Chicago shows that jazz is having difficulty placing itself when faced with the violation and the final and
irrevocable destruction of peoples that brought it life. These people had a story that was unknown to us and that
was situated outside the societies that led progress, living in a more static, crystalline and harmonious state.
Because of this, those societies were heavier with mythic thoughts. In this way, their critical action was at the
same time marginalised and central, localised within one reality that became nearly unbearable, organised by
marginalised intellectualism, translated by men who prefer allegory to historical conscience. Some eras are too
complex and too noisy to be listened to at tone mixed with common sense, where truth is not an element
fundamental for grabbing hold of a sadistic vision of the world. The need for truth has not been constant in the
history of men, and even an idea (even one suffering from distortion) can send a spark of higher creative impulses
to what was created by scrupulously holding to the truth. This reveals that the balance resulting from the
application of the truth does not always have the unbalanced workings of a lie as its adversary.

Closing Statement

There exists a unifying tendency that sketches jazz by using descriptive and narrative methods. History viewed in
a chronological perspective is one of the most tiresome ways to appreciate the outlook and establish sequence on
sequence in an attempt to try to understand that ‘something extra’ about what is already ordered in time.
Another technique, which is much in vogue, is the so-called practice of ‘sound descriptions’ done on recordings
available commercially or in programmes at concert performances, which seem quite able to present at these
crucial moments enough reason and cause to give explanations on a past fact, on a chronicled moment or its
recording. In treading this territory, it becomes evident that they are seeking handy answers at the last minute,
and how revealing it is to witness their poor command of concepts and knowledge. Its practitioners (yes, they
irreparably impoverish all readings and all meaning that art might provide) lament over what art can provide,
and in our case, what the music of jazz might contain. When this takes place, precious little will be said about the
enormous banality of ‘languages’ forming their texts and writings, with one more metaphor or saying on the
subject, more or less. It all goes painfully from place to place, with its dates more or less known, with more or
fewer names and places of birth and death…The learned man is an easy catch; he serves as the alibi for the
current black hole in the knowledge gap. He is dangerously moulded with ‘shopping centre knowledge’, which
firmly coincides with his all-purpose ideas that simulate his intelligence but cause fear if he must go out on a
limb to defend the smallest thought without a safety net. We live in a time when it is best not to stray too far
intellectually from that which is not immediately explicit or easily discernible to the eye. As a result, (and in a
subtle way) we are being invited to restrict the practice of analytic exercise, to refrain from the subtleties of
dialectic visions, the discovery of our ultimate vocabularies and the idiosyncrasy and agility of our imagination...