EDITION: Jornal Guimarães Jazz Annual Journal #2 - Câmara Municipal de Guimarães/ Associação Cultural Convívio/ A Oficina    
DATE: November 2007 


The program for Guimarães Jazz has never been one that is a choice which projects or structures itself by
stepping off from one particular type of music. It is clear that the process of selection behind an event such as
this, which covers a single theme, necessarily displays an inarguable aspect of fragility in understanding. When
you support the structuring of a program that has a single concept as its base, its scope becomes more intuitive in
a reduced and limiting way, limiting future solutions.

In the beginning of the 20 th century, there were composers who already had a very clear notion about their
ability to orient their art toward a person in particular or to direct their music toward a very specific audience,
the supporter of what they were doing. Webern was the first musician able to ponder the inexistence of the other,
whereas Schoenberg was still composing for a future ideal listener. Webern assumed that this public did not
exist, in an attempt to structure his music and creative acts outside the influences of the medium in which he
worked. Following along with this idea, it might be thought that our festival program should be an action not
destined for an ideal receiver, with the need to express a position that dispenses with the particular order in
which the mechanisms that choose are always contingent and occasional impulses, many times unconscious.
How, then, to discover a different and strange dimension for this inevitable alienation that can be perceived
amongst program, music and listener? Personal taste - or better yet - the attention that is paid to a certain project
emerges in an occasional manner without apparently or intentionally having limits to genre or style. The
programming process begins with prior experiences, taking into account past events, projecting inside them the
search for a new reality. In this type of exercise, unpredictable ways of feeling emotions are melded together,
supported in the symbolic imagery of the musical object reflected over top of its past, present and future, and
allowing for moments of comparative emotional linking among the various temporal dimensions of each one to

All events have extremely subjective and complex moments, full of reflections and strategic finalities that cause
new decision-making to take place. There also exists an interior desire to have orders established, coherence
attributed and reasoned actions situated in an apparently ordered logic that is profound and difficult to
transmit. The intention is to format the various proposals that are brought up, establishing a way to make them
enticing, and engage the process of seducing the majority of people, without abdicating distance in relation to the
essential aesthetic values that are revealed in the desire to offer a diversity of projects, enabling the exploration of
other ideas with the performance of new musicians.

Guimarães Jazz, being the last festival of the year, is held after a series of similar events. Its conception has to
reflect this fact, and other programs are analyzed. Unnecessary repetitions that would show a lack of originality
are avoided, since they would translate into a depletion of the opportunities available for disseminating this type
of music. The program thus must be structured on a set of suggestions, at the same time invitations to attend the
concerts and glittering flashes meant to pique the curiosity of the public.

A song is always a reality that can not be represented. In order to be properly worked upon, the piece has to
encounter an infinite sense of its performance and the way it can be fixed in a singular identity, yet with different
moulds for its performance. A wider re-elaboration of what can be recognized in the artistic space of our ever-
changing world has to carry on. Every year, there appear new ideas and projects that unleash attentions and
interest, expressing diverse models of understanding that bring along with them certain concepts and
presuppositions that are so often repeated. The principles of “jazz for jazz's sake” and “jazz as pure art” are
references that should orient us, stripped of their habitual prejudices of recognition, putting things in
hierarchies, consecration and fashion - this strange activity of the ephemeral which obliges us to understand the
vastness of this phenomenon demanding that we know how to differentiate and individualize what brings it
about and to distinguish its more authentic manifestations. Sometimes, unfortunate and ambiguous
terminologies appear - semantic formulations that confuse without really defining positions and reflecting not
more than the relativity of all evaluations. There is a clear process of persuasion associated with writing that
attempts to convince and be convinced that there exist supreme methods of classification in which the best are
recognized and acclaimed as such. It is known that success is far from having an equivalent with regard to
quality and creativity, talent and artistic authenticity. It is always difficult to take a selective approach in
referring to new musicians. Shifts in the jazz scene are full of events that have been made banal by mass
communication, speech that serves as a vehicle of commercial interest, promotional models and market vices. It
is impossible for there to be definitive solutions in the elaboration of ideas about the quality of music when
concepts are pre-established over the actions of one's own critique, concepts that tendentially classify and place
in hierarchies. All reflections express a personal taste, an evaluation that is always debatable and contingent, and
an attempt to reach an understanding with satisfactory results, beginning with personal, pragmatic and
provisional ways of perceiving.

Art is not the realization of an ideal act because if this were so, art would be its own negation. A festival is, out of
principle, the sum of unfinished creative acts, which, for being so, comprise all types of risks and fragilities. If the
creative act could achieve an ideal state of permanence, it would not authorize successive readings or so many
other reinterpretations. Works could never become great in their universal realization and would be unable to
assume a timeless aesthetic dimension. A work embodies a type of synthesis, annexes various ideal moments
exposed in the power of a symbology that renews itself and remains up-to-date. This enrichment, this
accumulation of solutions, a consequence of successive visions, experiences and feelings, imbues jazz with the
strange ability to constantly question its public. The bearer of inquiring tension, jazz becomes music that is
indispensable for understanding our world. The degree of awe that arises when considering the multitude of
jazz's possible interpretations and the changes in circumstances that are insistently revealed when such
innumerable readings take place settle into the hectic and instantaneous human lifestyle that characterizes
contemporary culture.

That is how we can confirm that nothing is able to correspond to the expectations of we have previously
established. The “ideal” festival would be one that could appeal to the public without manifesting the slightest
influence of the forces of preconception, fashion, consecration, recognition, hierarchy, etc., transforming itself
into a neutral happening able to stimulate the need to learn and to inspire courageous and humble acts of
revelation to tackle the problems caused by its understanding. In this way, the festival would come to the
ultimate end of its existence if it were able to totally fulfill all its promises, achieving the blend of what is
expected and what is assimilated.

Jazz and art have gone along acquiring values that assure enlightened autonomy. In the midst of the abundant
symbols that transform artistic exercise into an activity that is no longer art but culture, there exists the danger
that everything may be seen as a way to encourage consumption through the adoption of exchange mechanisms
whose main goal is the tallying of just how great popularity levels and audience numbers are.

Guimarães Jazz must also be an element that spreads itself out broadly. We have encountered a broad field of
performance where musicians and listeners coexist. Jazz has to be accompanied by many of the other activities
that are essential for us to live out our structural and environmental reality where we can illustrate the conflict
concerns we all live with. Criticism, history, creative movements, polemics, monographs, essays, schooling,
improvisation, collectionism, tradition versus modernity, commercial art, pure art, social, political and economic
interests…. its games, its confrontations, its shocks are al structuring elements (among many more) indispensable
for breathing in jazz as a living musical expression. The world is in constant mutation and jazz needs to know
how to assimilate this and participate in the rapidness of this general movement that determines who we are
more and more. To be active and resistant may mean that we may still be able to convey stimuli inclined to unite
people, overcoming this homogenizing regime in which we all live.
                                 JAZZ AS

Jazz as Freedom
Pharoah Sanders Quartet

The sense of jazz seems to have undergone some changes. To better comprehend these movements, it would be
interesting to analyze the forms that have been attained as a process of releasing and freeing, in which the many
adventures, ambiguities and ironies that have occurred along its history are featured. Along this path, which is
drawn out by the desire for change, lie an idea of self-transformation and transformation of the world that is
cloaked in fear, disorientation and disintegration. Jazz expresses life as paradoxical and discordant, a difficult
survival situation which is constantly trying to find solutions and establishing different forms of approaching and
conceiving. The political and sociological character of artistic expression is overlaid upon concepts extracting the
potential of the modern, already many times explored. The desire to change can be identified through an ironic
vision that does not deplete the strategy of redefining what has been instituted.

What is sought after is a passageway between two heterogeneous orders - that of absolute certainty and that of a
profession or act of faith. The disquiet of jazz requires time so that the music can properly be submitted to the
judgment of history. This occurs through moments of reflection and selection which establishes a regime of non-
temporality made stable in the concept of universal aesthetics. There is no stability without faith, without belief,
without a higher sense that outlives the present, retaining for later use in the memory many of the defining and
identifying elements that anticipated and aided in the determining of new expansions of this music. There is
worry about the minimum regularity capable of providing safe bedrock for evaluation, spatially-determined
chronological tools of which we will never be able to use effectively. Through time and its succession in space, we
try to resolve the gaps and difficulties in understanding contained in the projects we stumble upon. We take to
the path in this regime of uncertainty and altering, forced to act as if we knew something definitive about the
safety of concepts and the setting down of ideas. If the symbologies that are built are important for support, we
must also recognize that the definitions that we find will provide solutions for absolutely nothing. Jazz has gone
out on a path of abstraction, subjectivating itself, reaching a liberating sense of surmounting an obstacle, just as
other artistic endeavors have. It has taken decisions about its space, which along its path have not appeared
quickly or easily. It has had the opportunity to carry out a self-evaluation, a correct judgment about itself, thus
creating a state of equilibrium between what it has decided and the internal and external information
accumulated over time, and thus knowing how to assert itself with the result shored up in other more rational
and safer ideas about its evolution and progress. There is no jazz without the respect for singularity or for the
small contingent world where everything is determined, and there is no art without a community of people who
are interested in discerning these events. We are a grouping of individuals - all identifiable, representative equal
beings - with art happening and following afterwards in our midst. For reasons that escape us, we are capable of
being sufficiently free to act in a more stable way than is natural, succeeding in attaining pleasure that is brought
about in the symmetry of the object of pleasure and the person appreciating it. Without the reciprocity of will
found in the ‘listener 1 creative musician' space, there would not exist that liberating constancy that permits us to
assimilate and evaluate what we are listening to. In jazz, this relationship is much more visible in the swiftness of
movements and the substrata of the ephemeral. In improvisation, an approach that structures a creative space in
change is revealed, in which one can take voice from the voice of another, making it the building-block of one's
own liberty. These characteristics keep jazz from ever being a foreign musical form. Each one of its experiences
appears as an attempt of the possible on a limitless frontier. Its contents are not totally revealed to us and its
legacy remains to be deciphered. This situation requires us to hear it through the compelling urge to encounter
what is needed. At its centre are the music and a performance contradiction exposed in the living memory of its
ever-near languages, always able to be compared with more recent happenings. Jazz has worked these realities
by inverting the senses, using parodies transformed into serious matters or seriousness reflected in irony. No one
knows who began this circular movement in the immense libertine unbalance that its sound would inevitably
cause. Successive bumps have perturbed the stability, symmetry and security. Even the canon which was viewed
as something acquired and fixated by the core of society that regarded music and art with disparagement, which
itself at the same time was having difficult time of it and which now, curiously, is reliving those days, bogged
down in a worrisome state of affairs.

Jazz as Friendship
Ravi Coltrane Quartet

Jazz as a creative process has known quite well how to find the means for survival effective enough to establish its
artists and to compel its listeners. Beyond the desire for association etched in jazz, through its performance a
formula for instant friendship appears to have been sprung up. This music, which did not content itself with
simply existing, made itself heard and fed a community of believers attracted by the paradoxes recognized in
faithfulness to creation. It asked nothing of no one; it presented itself in a simple way, as the effort to re-
encounter the lost vision of a past religious spirit taken up the instant the force of a new, attractive, more secular
and more neutral wisdom was discovered. This solitary dedication gains importance through our acceptance of
its forms of musical resolution that, although contradictory and opposed to the more traditional ideas of history,
were presented by visions of musical structuring that intended to safeguard the perturbing link to the more
chaotic and freer side of human beings. Improvisation manifests a propensity to accept a thing that can result
from its opposite, as a truth can emerge from falsehood, contradicting its very origins.

It is known that the use of a word brings down its meanings - the causes give origin to effects that are superior,
thus impeding access to the profound truths contained in them. Jazz, not being word, can also be corrupted by
speech that disintegrates in its obstinacy of communicative impulses. It is solitary music that disassociates and
isolates itself in a healthy individualistic solidarity. The search for explanatory solutions for its forms creates
misunderstandings, separation and hostility. Theses questions recall the old and judicious necessity to renounce
one's taste, to avoid being united by wide agreements of sensibility because in that way we live in an immense
subjective world of creativity, in a state of secrecy in which we learn more from being apart than from being
together. Those who wish to stay united to the overwhelming number of elements crushed in the centrifuge will
find it practically impossible to find the space to spark experiences of artistic creativity.

Jazz calls on us to think beyond the notion of what is accepted and institutional. It supposes the existence of
disproportion, the rupture in reciprocity between all the intervening parties, pushing relationships off balance
and re-forming them into energies. From this apparent discordance are born things that are different from what
is felt in the singularity of attained autonomy, in the independence of ways of feeling and in the self-sufficiency of
the capacity to criticize culturally. These aspects stimulate us to reshape the dimensions of imaginative stretching
that penetrate many other musical areas terrains, removing influence from them and adopting semantic
structures unique to them, incorporating them usefully in their context. There is an enormous survival capacity
for creating bonds and establishing networks of interactions dealing with recognition and projection in an ideal
duality: the other of one's self and one's self made better. Such practices instigate the perfecting of the survival
mechanism which consolidates itself through the dream of immortality. When on the other side of death, there is
only a light - the ecstatic luminosity able to communicate with the absolute future from which fantasy emanates,
two senses that cohabitate in the unique original that remakes itself in multipliable copies and vice-versa. That's
why tradition appears to be always coming close to its end, yet the absolute finale never takes place, as it had be
announced at the beginning. True jazz is its own idealistic image. There is no definitive place able to furnish us
with permanent points of reference, able to finish off this volatility of genres and types. Not even harmony works
as the equilibrium in music that lives off of the audacious exploitation of limits that were pulling apart when
faced with the atonality of analytical sensibilities. The more a final classification for jazz is sought, the more its
horizons pull way and pull apart, creating new empty spaces or wide gaps in misunderstanding. The mobility of
territorialities and their remade surfaces stir up the desire to understand; the attempts to reign in moments of
difficult understanding do not provide peace-inducing certainties. For this very reason, jazz can only be projected
beyond its own lifespan in a benevolent friendship.

Jazz as Object
Jan Garbarek Group

In jazz we detect a profound dilemma, an attempt to return to the old idea that bonds are made with reality
through feeling. The aesthetic value set in ideas of harmony, regularity and organic unity seems to despise and
suspend itself. The present moment reveals itself in the ample process of interaction which no longer allows for
the application of traditional concepts of media and explanation based on dialectic contradiction and the
exploration of oppositions in symmetrically polar terms. In the apparent repetition of styles that characterize
improvised music today, a detectable form of unbalance is established in the generalized banalisation of art, a
situation manifest in innumerable realizations. There is a lack of faith, a pull back of belief in the simplism and
naiveté of the forms chosen. The way that jazz is expressed at present leads us to suppose that no one believes in
the defense of transcendence in art, generally speaking, and of this music in particular. Some pieces are art and
some people are artists, but other types of ontological problems that may come to pass are always felt in a
superfluous way.

Jazz suffers from all the inabilities and situations of change inherent in a process of rectification of the artistic
which transforms art into a tangible object, subject to a dual simplification. An occurrence as a consequence of a
general process of demystification and secularization of artistic manifestations, involving all the symbolic
activities in its fetishist detours. Its representation depends on factors of immediate and direct communicability
and not on creative activity derived from the sublime in creative projection felt via an identity that sustains and
verifies it. Everything transforms into a mechanism of merchandise-swapping: the more the principle of a ‘value
swap' destroys the very possibility of having useful value, the more that value itself becomes disguised as an
object of ‘an end result.' The culture industry substitutes the effect for the cause, maintaining a passive attitude
of adoration toward the cultural product ever closer to the concept of fetish applied to consumer goods. The
circulation of products is impregnated by a clear utilitarian objectivity that does not evoke any doubt about these
values, ones which are crammed into all types of publicity that deal intensely with these moments as if they were
objects. Its receptivity by the public is an event without relevance, an accessory moment, an event that takes place
in the middle of a process of competition amongst the various instruments of mass communication, information
and style. As we come closer to swelling layers of both the general public and those individuals who are in the
dark and unable to discern the difference between what is real and what is symbolic, works of art turn into
things, becoming objects structured in a purely commercial aspect. These works are pushed off track by the
attention and care given to maneuvers and propitious strategies meant to favor the rapid circulation of goods and
see their spiritual and transcendent scope oriented toward notions of lesser value, akin to accessories.

Art becomes dissolved in the fashion that dulls and snuffs out the strength of what is real, dissolves its radicality,
normalizing and making homogenous all things in a generalized spectacle, seeking novelty and effect - which
implies the rapid wearing out and obsolescence of works that must be continually replaced with other ones
endowed with greater force of impact and features capable of awakening new awareness. Communication also
exerts strong influence on artistic activity because publicity and information develop asphyxiating and insipid
means communication, leading down paths that seem seductive to consumers. Discovering jazz as a reality in its
irreducible singularity - integrating it into a process where elaboration of meaning is an added value to
knowledge through imaginary projection - would be one of its main ends. This music should take all pains to
succeed in pointing out another path, one that give access to a different symbolic order that might better
visualize its realness.

Jazz as Feeling
Orrin Evans Quintet

There are strange coincidences between the analytical forms applied to jazz and some general features within the
theory of art history. The experience of surprise has been one of the elements of aesthetic feeling which, since the
days of Greek Antiquity, has determined many critical approaches to art, themselves developed via the opposition
between two ways of molding the concept of beauty. In trying to establish a way to interpret the ancient world
based on the opposition of form and event, it should be noted that form is associated with the appreciation of
works of art whereas the event is more oriented toward the exploitation of the ‘surprise effect.' Thus it becomes
interesting for us to reflect on those elements that explain art and its feeling so that we can find in them a
relationship between the improvisational forms encountered in music and the implications of artistic
manifestations that this type of random-based experience can provide us.

Creating an event is not enough. For an event to exist, it must be felt as happening for each individual. However,
not everything that happens is an event. Only that which is presented as something able to reach a certain target
within each person can be considered as such. This is implicit in the concept of event, an idea of success resulting
from confidence in historical truth, explained through an instant of grace revealed in the interpretation of the
experience of victory. Attaining the most sublime sensation in artistic experimentation, one that starts off in
creative activity that becomes universal through its grandeur, is a sign that events cannot be given a rational
explanation because they emerge from an oscillation between chance and fortune as non-manifest causes in
human rationality. If behind everything there was the appearance of something evident and rational, then now
we have to consider a series of more insecure new elements that act in diverse ways - as if they could furnish
explanations on what it is like to be human, to possess certain physical characteristics and to be born in a certain
environment, or as if we had lived through a particular type of experience. The force of the word “chance” carves
out quite a few philosophical implications, which in some situations could conveniently be translated as “luck.”
The appearance of a new degree of indeterminateness has been sensed at the level of what is random, which will
also befall the event at the moment when each person, instead of becoming a prisoner of the opposition of
‘interior versus exterior' and ‘subjectivity versus the world,' finds a constructive solution that allows that person
to place him/herself in a positive way within the process that acts beyond the solution. Without this exercise,
there is no event, and there is no happening without repetition because everything that imposes itself as the best
for each person must be repeated, transformed and elaborated in that which is subjectively desired. This idea of
the event is born out of the concept of art as an individual exercise.

Certain thoughts about art manifest a way of looking at the work of art differently in relation to its form. The only
requirement placed upon the public is that of contemplation and passivity that wraps itself around the
individual. What takes place is that the piece acquires a new dimension in this contemplative perspective. Its
exercise, in the ‘process moment' that spurs creation, displays supreme care in expressing the search of
something extremely refined and takes off track the feeling toward a new context, verified in a singular entwining
of contemplation and action, separating all actions that prepare the practical and final result - the work itself.

Jazz can also be viewed through all these happenings, reaching its final moment in that which is heard in the
most active and vital manner. We perceive the work as if there were some compulsive need for repetition in it,
expressed in a degree of total dissatisfaction and re-experienced in the permanent attempt to overcome this state.
In the anguish felt over what has been already realized, determined by the successive processes of improvisation
that music excites, there is some acting upon luck, the moment when something is risked and things are put into
play, in the attempt to lock real time, like a prisoner, into the work of creative happening. Making event and form
overlap in their aesthetical dimensions in an act that refuses not to be ephemeral is the concretization of art as

Jazz as Profaning
John Scotfield 'Real Jazz' Trio featuring Steve Swallow and Bill Stewart

Jazz can be viewed as an act that profanes. The meaning of the word “profane,” in terms of Roman law, refers to
the removal of things from the sacred or religious sphere and their use outside the realm of the gods. Thus, to
consecrate was the term defining the removing of things which humans had a right to, placing them at the
exclusive disposition of the gods; to profane was the contrary, where free use of such things was restored to
humans. Jazz can also be fit into this movement of de-consecration. The first years of its existence were seen as
acts of sacrilege expressed through troublesome attitudes that violated and transgressed the lack of availability of
certain, particular goods that were exclusively to be used by the divine. Access to music was fenced off from a
people in slavery because it was experienced as a subversive type of entertainment and a non-authorized
diversion. It is interesting for us to consider that its first performances were charged with intense religious
weight, meant perhaps to downplay the overflowing sacrilege implicit in it. The profane side gradually became
manifest through its practice, which expressed marginal and illegitimate contexts. Things became released from
the grip of ‘holy names' and were returned to the common man for his use. Skillfully, the enslaved people
managed to make the various indigenous African cultures more uniform, and through the process of religious
linking, at the same time discovered a new social and political reality that became used as a profane mechanism
of identity. Jazz acquired a liberating substratum that activated and regulated that separation. Even today, it
retains vestiges of this genuinely religious central core. As a uniting element to spur essential relationships to the
determination of a redeeming referential identity, this music never ceased to be a type of profane contagion - the
sound that un-bewitches and restores to all common people the ability to use whatever the sacred had taken away
and controlled out of its necessity to cling to power. Thus, jazz went off the path of the sacred sphere after having
been returned to the daily lives of all of us in popular forms of expression. The sacred took part in a broad process
of identification and unity and had it not done so in this way, it would have been nearly impossible to achieve.

The term religion comes from the Latin “religare” (“to tie fast”) meaning what unites the human to the divine. Its
organizations were founded in practices taken from secular endeavors, achieving mass identification for the
enslaved people who lived within a powerful country where the racial divide was a fundamental element in
structuring the means of economic production. This passage from the sacred to the profane is a game which
takes the unity of what is initially established and breaks it up into pieces. A game of freeing up societies and
preconceived notions takes place which, like the majority of games we are familiar with, have their origin in
ancient sacred ceremonies, rituals and divining practices that were within the religious sphere, in the widest
sense. This game can also represent the subversion that breaks the bond connecting myth and rite into pieces,
and that occurs via the deactivation of the other sacred bond, the one that gave origin to the first one. The game
liberates and pushes men away from the sphere of the sacred but does not intend to abolish its use. Modern men
no longer know how to play such games, and this is confirmed by the enormous number of games that invade our
space and in the mind-numbing multiplication of new and old games. The show is also an attempt to return to an
idea of the game as a subversive moment. Oddly enough, we may perceive of jazz as a happening that can still re-
establish ruptures between the sacred and the profane, creating new possibilities for subversion when setting up
forms that compel us to keep playing these old games of humanity. If jazz were able to make an appeal to all
forms of action that would refute social and religious rules, opening up new prospects for grabbing hold of a lost
feast by a return to a renewed concept of the sacred and its more propitious rites, it would assume a new rupture
just as profane as the one that started this whole artistic adventure.

Jazz as Tought
Ahmad Jamal

There currently exists a context in which many people who follow artistic phenomena find themselves: one which
is convinced that jazz today, as well as art in general, can do without theory. The role of the critic is limited to the
elaboration of a narrative chronicle via a text that expresses the heaps of news and descriptions that flutter about
without there being the least attempt to explain the difficulties of music and its proper placement, socially,
economically and politically speaking. We recognize a different time frame, but in spite of this, many written
activities are limited by a dramatically utilitarian perspective, following a vision of publicity-generating,
commercial promotion of artists that is outwardly pleasing without ever having to deal with subjective matters.
Aesthetical questions accompany the lack of interest paid to ethics in a post-industrial society which is more
attentive to poetical experiences and others more related to its own history. The idea of pushing away, seeking
detours around or distancing any thought or reflection on the more obscure questions of creation, and other
existential aspects contained therein, can be seen in the inconsistency of the narratives that are emerging today in
the inconclusive discourse of many critiques appearing after the second half of the 1980s. There has been an
overall deviation regarding what has been done and felt, clearly featuring an aggressive polemic that worries
young musicians and critics who would rather plant their reflexive roots in a more reducing vision of their work
and who protest outwardly with reasoning of a practical order. Greater tendencies in more recent art, the defense
of jazz and ultra-naturalist art that gets pushed away from any type of transcendence, not just the theoretical,
still persist in the ancient necessity to negate, transgress and act in a militant fashion. In the challenging and
apparently irreverent movement that we are witnessing, there are many cases that wish to dispense with the task
of solitary and persistent comprehension of the entire theorizing process inherent in all artistic activity. The
volatility of these processes lifts actions to the level of experiences of another type, favoring the group and their
essentially activist character.

Aesthetics are born when one deals with what is assumed to be art and the way in which the superior moment of
creation is reflected in thought. There could never exist any level of reflective inquiry if writing were made to
symbolize a regime of distancing thematics from theoretics, opting for activities more related to struggle and
competition or with other more utilitarian interests. Current movements state that all ideas surrounding jazz
structuring cannot be centered on the extremism of provocation, nor on the violence of transgressions, because
these forms have less and less significance in the present world, with this type of untimely message putting forth
a clear sensation of boredom, banality and idiocy. A type of anti-theoretical orientation can be felt prevailing over
this music. Paradoxical and contradictory features emerge in this way of acting because, although anything that
may give origin to aesthetic reflection is able to unleash just repudiation, this does not prevent value judgments
from being made about artists or about those people unwilling to develop analytical practices based on such
presuppositions. Seen in the content of prepared elaborated material is an array of devaluation, depreciation and
rejection, which all persists baselessly and without just cause, showing superficiality. When this event is
considered with more attention, its justification is not found in the fact that the one who criticizes can also
recover his own artistic license, but rather to the contrary, it seeks to insist on the predominance of an amateur
attitude that conveys personal and private judgments on taste. What is confirmed is that one likes or does not like
a certain thing, and it is impossible to go farther with that relationship within the scope of two limit-positions.

Paying attention to these movements occurring with such force in today's jazz scene, intention wants it to be
known that we are no longer cohabitating within the traditional artistic lifestyle in which the work of art was
characterized by its aura, or rather, by the cultural value that it was given as an unique and long-lasting object
that solicited an aesthetic experience based on a relationship of distance that met the person enjoying it.
Currently, we find ourselves inside another fully secularized, empty and disenchanted regime that was
inaugurated through technical reproductions of works of art, which conferred on art a merely expository value,
beginning then and continuing onward with a relationship of proximity with the public, extremely deprived of
subjective values that should be beckoned and presented with the greatest possible intensity in artistic endeavors.

Jazz as Abstraction and Loneliness
Charles Tolliver Big Band

We have heard many times that in order to comprehend a work of art it is necessary to understand its historical
context. Against this commonly placed and famously historicist stamp, it is possible to conclude that in
summarizing all contact with artistic production with this type of approach, one must insist upon the singular
and exclusive observation from the historical context as it is written, harming the intimacy with art, its prospects
for analysis, its potential for understanding and the identification of its comprising influences. The same
happens with jazz. If one wishes to understand anything relevant in this music, it is necessary to perform broader
abstractions into its encyclopedic and banal considerations, pulling it from out of the temporal occurrence in
which artistic activities are initially recorded. This necessity, formed by the will to seize what surrounds us, is so
fragile and so debatable that viewpoints can get overturned, ones that had been held up to that moment and ones
committed to the historical weight of events and that affirm that art itself is the activity which furnishes the space
that allows for unique observation. Also, given the way we achieve a new individual understanding bolstered in a
particular historical situation, we are able to establish a direct contact with the brutal facts behind the events,
which might stir us to want to maintain a certain ignorance of said facts. To the contrary, if a person reads some
literary texts or attends a screening of some representative films about a certain movement, the information
collected can provide ideas about the context, helping us to clarify the previously-observed brutal facts.

In human history, the role of music has changed, with it no longer being a vehicle to propagate the spoken word
or a means of transmitting a message, instead becoming something that retains and contains a symbology that
has ceased to be unique to it. We find that with this type of movement - one which shows the passage from a state
of general and concrete utility to a more individual and abstract developmental one - occurs in history
everywhere and in all artistic manifestations. What we have here is a type of subjective deepening in relation to
the first message that was transmitted in words. What has been perceived is a distancing in the direction of a
space of loneliness that etches versatility and flexibility upon the work of art being realized, thus distinguishing it
from other communicative expressions. The piece then acquires its own dimension existent in all unique things
and re-launches art toward the universal plane situated above all more worldly interests. Music functions as the
surface of solitude, a place of recognition and contemplation. Jazz manifests this solitary side when it does not
request for itself any type of inheritance of internal well-being whose experience is found in precise state of
superior delight. The idea of simplicity, purity and sentiment relative to the need to suspend judgment is
reinforced, taking on values that are freer and void of earth-bound commitments. The works of art can only
attain affective self-sufficiency when they reflect this ideal course that humanity can indeed tread, using this
path, one where art is the contact-spot with truth, an abstract term directed to the public that recognizes itself in
the indispensable union of an abstract dimension of subjectivity.

Jazz music is a type of solitary being that acts over subjective knowledge to conciliate morally renewed free time.
Intentionality and intimacy seem to be part of music, and only through its instrumental effects is it possible to
register any type of evolution or periodic modification. While in other arts the expressive form shows itself to be
intimately limited by instrumentation, in music, this relationship emerges before us with greater astuteness and
immediacy. This fact leads us to believe that it is much more difficult to tell a lie through music, and because of
this, it possesses an affinity with emotive, amorphous and extremely powerful material from infancy. It absorbs a
register of representation that, given its flexible expression, it considers untranslatable and non-alternative with
respect to other existing languages, ones to which humans direct their attentions in their daily exploits, through
the fact that they exist.
Jazz as Travel
Projecto TOAP / Guimarães Jazz com Matt Renzi, Jacob Sacks, Bernando Moreira and André Sousa Machado

Gertrude Stein once said that “he who creates something is bound to make it ugly.” The result of the effort to
generate intensity and tension in a work of art translates into a struggle to produce this intensity, which always
bears the mark of a certain ugliness. Those who come along after a work is created can transform it into
something exquisite and lovely because, once they see that it has been conceived, these people have a better sense
of the medium in which they operate. The inventor does not know what he invents, yet it seems inevitable that he
will produce something that cannot help but possess its own ugliness. The reconciliation of near-instinctive
creativity, with the forms in which it links up with its own history - this is (if one confides in the end result of
others, manifest in rational thought) where ugliness is an excess on the journey to stylistic perfection. How many
times indeed has this happened with jazz, at times when musical works were written and someone ventured
against what was taken for granted, causing profound feelings of rejection accompanied by strange sensations of
lacking perfection? Paradoxically, what is unattractive can be considered an important step for attaining
aesthetic betterment. In this movement of memory over the fragmentation of thoughts and remembrances that
affords us a glimmer of continuity and temporal permanence, there is also a sensation of an imaginary journey, a
path that has features of what is supposedly real and that interferes with the sensation. Jazz has a nomadic
element unique to all the walking paths of its travelers, in which a confidence in the future is seen, one born out
of a deep consciousness in the present. Jazz, as a musical style that liberates, sets itself upon the idea of the
future. What is ugly appears to us as something that we trust, but we do not recognize it as such, with beauty
appearing as a trust-making process in things we have already acquired and understood. These two sides of the
same question are constantly crisscrossing in this music, interacting in a space of musical invention, acquiring
identity in the relationship between the vestiges of what has already transpired but what is still close at hand and
the profile of the near future with the hopefulness in what is yet to come.

The journeys of human beings are attempts to find answers to the general necessity for searching things out and
to the finality of a worldliness that is sought in the eventual discovery of mythic, religious, rational, historical and
artistic pathways. The grandiosity of this individual skill consists of the capacity to move oneself in inventive
ways, displaying new discoveries and finding new ways to project journeys of knowledge, themselves bumpy and
continually winding trajectories made so by the impulses of hope and the agitation of intuition. Such routes will
never be straight or simple or have an end - and never will there be just one route possible - since they do not take
into consideration the finding of a sure and satisfactory conclusion. It is a question of managing to keep up this
‘pilgrim movement,' this worrisome energy that pushes us toward the mysterious and the uncertain, like Ulysses
who visited the Underworld and saw the dark dimensions of the human condition - we, who on the one hand are
willing to walk toward heaven yet on the other, pulled into the bowels of the earth - and still desired to go on with
learning lessons on his travels that would serve as testimonies for future generations. The pathways that are
opened up take it upon themselves to fulfill the role of revealing moment, so that our challenge may attain it
confirmation in its own rehabilitation.

In jazz are retained all the moments of worry in which “the process of artistic creation is guided by a single
motivating objective: to maximize binding aesthetical values.” Creativity is the capacity to achieve success given
this effort. The journey offers us an independent stature situated in the space of imagination, endowed with its
own life, one which relates to itself and to humanity. It reduces the entities that generate mistrust and smoothes
out the natural scenarios where a traveler can act out on his own fears with the intent to lessen any devastating
effects and reconcile the use of measuring units and categories for calculation and comfort. In this relationship
between idea and reality, the journey comes into second contact with this decisive point in all of the history of
Western thought - a convincing description of the scenarios dominated by the senses fed on fantasy, and an
imitative, inventive and comparative potential that, inevitably, will be established in all spheres of experience.

AGAMBEN, Giorgio: Profanações , Livros Cotovia, Lisboa 2006;
CAMPA, Riccardo: A Modernidade , Fim de Século, Lisboa 2006;
DERRIDA, Jacques: Políticas da Amizade , Campo das Letras, Lisboa 2006;
PERNIOLA, Mário: A Arte e a sua Sombra, Assírio & Alvim, Lisboa 2006;
ŽIŽEK, Slavoj, A Subjectividade Por Vir , Relógio d' Água, Lisboa 2006.