EDITION: Guimarães Jazz Annual Journal #5 - Câmara Municipal de Guimarães/ Associação Cultural Convívio/ A Oficina     DATE: November 2010 

                                                                       A FESTIVAL

a) “History” as a problem
All ideas require concrete examples which can shed light on and spark discoveries: thus we analyze Guimarães
Jazz in order to consider those sets of conditions in which the festival exists, with some of them inherent to its
customary practices for survival and consolidation, while other factors are totally outside this sphere. The
stronger and more intensely felt the ideas are, the deeper the mark they leave on people, appearing as
representations full of meaning, and thus, easily shared by those who appreciate and are attracted by them. In
our efforts to provide for an experience which has its quite subjective and intangible side, we must often seek out
the most effective formulas for publicizing and disseminating the event. To fictionally formulate a discourse
which ponders the event presupposes the adoption of a certain cinematographic writing technique, as if we were
dealing with a film script. Its register facilitates communication and creates more operational narrative and
descriptive mechanisms. However, it is not easy to involve people in a narrative which seeks to show what
happens behind the scenes of the ‘making of Guimarães Jazz.’ This year, we have opted to take up and illustrate
the myriad artistic expressions of the multidisciplinary artistry on offer by presenting the images you are about to
read in the following pages. We will go beyond what is seen on the surface, delving into some of the abstract
structures of the festival and looking at it as the hypertext of a metaphor amassed within a set of concepts meant
to unfold during the running of the event.

It is difficult to describe the history of Guimarães Jazz given the lack of proper distance in time from the event,
and because any such attempt to do so would result in the simple enumeration of certain high points, ones
selected for nostalgia’s sake, thus ending up as a heap of information. When we revisit the historical archives of
an event, we are placed before the illusion of having the absolute knowledge of its essence, with what really
remains being a partial synthesis of an object which is, in most cases, a confirmation of our own emotional
response and convictions. A historical reading is always contaminated by the interpretive process, one which
prevents us from reading the facts and yet impels us to be read by them.

b) Between memory and history

To describe Guimarães Jazz will always be a failed narrative, a text with many gaps, since it is impossible to
translate the wealth of emotions felt by those who have participated in the event. Therefore, to understand the
festival is to live it from the inside, to feel what goes on during the concerts and during the variety of concurrent
activities taking place in the ten days of the festival. The best way to observe the festival is to comment on and
expand upon those fleeting memories in an attempt to cast a personal feeling on them as a way to solidify these
memories. A simple recounting of the timetable of these past moments gives no indication of their true meaning;
it reveals nothing of the subtext nor of the awe contained in the impressions experienced. A camera lens should
be set up in some dark, hidden location and focused on the gaps - those still to be written about - filming the
audiences, the producers and the performers, those who mysteriously attend each year’s event.
But to return to the aforementioned subject and its polemic, it is difficult for us to attain the proper levels of
distancing and neutrality with respect to that which are attempting to analyze. To decompose the structure of a
certain event requires a detachment and a negation of possession in order to create a posture that is unbiased and
devoid of subjective values, and necessary to arrive at an overview of the event. This exercise allows for a
differentiated reading of its parts, where each concert is represented as a possibility for amplifying and extending
what exists and what is communicated to us when the events occur.

c) The beginning - moving from thought to act
A probable methodology to apply to this description would be to adopt the classical and temporal perspective of
organization. The first festival was basically an experiment, a founding act. The foundation, because it is set
upon an empty space, implies the mobilization of extreme loads of meaning - as if we had just gone from a state
of almost absolute insignificance to a small point of identification, the first step in the difficult process of
acquiring identity. Creation implies the commitment to construction and symbolic robustness, and in being such,
takes on a fundamental importance, since it is through creation that the way is made clear for the work of
conception to be set on the path to its materialization. To conceive of and to define a profile for the festival has as
its premise the simultaneous and parallel juxtaposition of its ongoing renewal and the affirmation of its own
identity. It is our desire to find an aesthetic model which reflects the idea of differentiation from that of other
festivals in existence and which anticipates future circumstances and shifts.

All creative endeavors must endure moments of doubt and reaffirmation throughout their history, causing crises
in growth, casting innumerable uncertainties and motivating people to action against the indifference and inertia
generated by these perils. Dealing with problems as they have appeared has been the principal way used to face
them. Guimarães Jazz has evolved in a positive way. It has taken on a body and an identity, and has brought
about some ambiguous responses, some in confirmation of its genuineness, and others calling its convictions into
question and at times wandering into the confusing territory of atrophy. In the ambivalence of the paths we have
taken and the observations we have made, we have faced all types of obstacles and complicated situations and
have succeeded in maintaining a constructive relationship with all sides. By balancing ourselves between artistic
and organizational interests and always striving for the utmost in quality, we have achieved a level of reliable
interaction with the reality which surrounds us and have discovered tools for objective evaluation. The coming
together of artistic concerns and technical production quality has made responsive and flexible management
possible, one able to adapt to any problems or needs which may arise. It bears recalling that this event was born
within a certain context (there were few festivals at the time and the music was viewed as an art form geared to a
minority audience, in some cases seen as elite), and it has shown a capacity for growing on its own in a natural

To organize a festival is an action, not a thought. It is the work of the artisan, radically opposed to that of
intellectual and aesthetic pursuits based on the subjectivity of creative minds. However, the doubts and the
problematization of festival content must not, and cannot, be expressed by the choices which are made, in that
they aspire fundamentally to the concept of consensus and acceptance in a duality made possible only when any
reading is made or any end result achieved in a personal way, free of noise or dispersion. At the farthest horizon
of a festival, or at least that of the pure experience of attending a concert, is the association with the concept of
absolute enjoyment coming from the contact with Beauty through sound, and with the eternal pleasure of music -
something which is only attainable through the absence of intermediaries and sterile conceptualizations which
relegate art to the cloister of rational, speculative and emotional enclaves, ones which destroy the possibility that
this singular moment can manifest itself as ecstasy and elevation via the communication and the understanding
of specific content which an encounter with music affords. The event is something which, at the moment which it
takes place, is cast out into the world without any ties to pull it back, a precarious attempt to attain a balance
which can only survive if all doubts and uncertainties are left behind. It offers itself up to time in order to be
assessed in retrospect, taking with it the very clear knowledge that one day it will also be a resounding echo,
containing the information and historical weight known as the past.

d) The spirit of the artisan

When people behave as consumers, they cease to think as artisans. The work of the artisan gives strength to a
particular attitude and a special relationship with the world; in acting like a consumer, the artisan carries out
more than a mechanical task since the ambition is to understand the reasons behind the functionality of what he
achieves and deepen its eventual practicality. He is interested in acquiring knowledge and wishes to become
involved with the mechanisms of the exchange of information, becoming less passive and more critical with
respect to his choices. The ability to understand and process this information decreases at the same time as his
volume increases. These factors make levels of consensus necessary, constricting the freedom to produce
antagonistic discourses. Thus, as a model for the realization of the project, the festival must incentivize free and
disinterested relationships. There is a climate of trust and credibility in getting the word out to those in the
concert-going public, one which brings the artisan to a posture of seriousness, reflection and rigor. Invisible
bonds are formed among the participants, ones later transformed into the symbology of affection and sensitivity
reflected in a historical event and a memory.

e) The festival and the system of art

The doubts and problems occurring from the structuring of the festival have revealed, with extreme clarity, its
need to become established, with an essential condition being programming choices and a reasonable distance
from the various interests at play - an aspect that is as important as it is evident is the current atmosphere of
ethical disorientation which is influencing all the actors moving about within the sphere of jazz at present. The
change of status of these agents may well constitute one of the signs of disintegration of a stable and ethically
delimited system. These imprudent shifts in various forms of intervention (the creative process of the artist,
programming, media critiques, the production of shows, commercial promotions and the recording industry)
and even the fluid swing from creation to promotion, have shaken things up, leading to unpredictable
consequences, in a medium which is nourished by the symbolic legitimacy of principles and artistic values,
causing a vampire-like draining of its effects on all levels. How curious it is to note the extent to which these
alterations have favored the accumulation of tasks, in some cases incompatible, for being subject to
irreconcilable counter-interests. There have been cases in which sponsorship from prestigious public institutions
was received, and they were given free rein without there being the least bit of disagreement voiced. The systemic
effects of the hand of transformation on these operations proved to be particularly serious given the opaque
nature of the discourse coming from the parties involved: it was never truly clear in what capacity people were
speaking when they made their opinions public knowledge. These circumstances produced strange feelings of
doubt about what was being said and written with respect to jazz, making it more difficult to execute any serious
and independent work on the dissemination and performance of jazz. The aforementioned practices lessen the
prestige of the music and raise the issue of whether there is any good in continuing to try effective and consistent
promotional efforts given the fact that incoherence and weakness in behavior is seen in this area. It is fitting the
call into question the ethical existence of a system when its agents neither define themselves nor identify
themselves in a clear way; in addition, the transparency of its “criticism” is questionable for not corresponding
seriously to the demands of legitimation vis-à-vis the comprehensive practice of the music. Those involved in the
dissemination of jazz should be neither exempt nor impervious to the floating and molding interests which exist
in the medium, as is the case with other areas as well. We must, therefore, not cave in to the temptation of
attracting attention to events which are not and cannot be representative of their definition. We must learn how
to survive in an arena where interests proliferate, and given the fact that they are unclear in how they manifest
themselves, everything which takes place is immediately under the threat of commonness and banality. A festival
must be an exclusive and uncompromised space, open to allow the public understanding and free individual
enjoyment, thus elevating the prestige of jazz, its credibility and that of all of those involved. In this sense, the
essence of our responses is found in the concerts - the performance of the musicians and the listening from the

f) Programming and subjectivity

Recent years have seen changes which confirm the ever-growing importance of the Festival Programmer, a role
which has been granted a certain type of protagonism and relevance as recourse to the legitimation and identity-
making affirmation of the events. This is perhaps the result of the multiplication of similar events (festivals,
concerts, exhibition, cycles, etc.) and of the competition among them, from which it is necessary to determine the
depth of their differentiating features and to sift through its aesthetic coherence. Another aspect contributing to
the emergence of the figure of Programmer appears to be the idea of an increasingly techno-savvy and
professionalized cultural context which currently demands greater specialization in the production and
dissemination of shows. The role of Programmer is wrapped up in a decisive relevance and contains an elevated
degree of media-based visibility, making the job an appealing position to hold, one with ample exposure to a
confluence of interests and marginal pressures on artistic values.

Those who select the program must have the proper technical, intellectual and ethical qualifications which allow
for an acceptable level of imperviousness and skill in order to make the best program decisions in the unyielding
defense of integrity and the worth of the project. The Programmer’s commitment requires a strategic vision and a
keen eye for understanding reality, which will serve him in good stead for the sake of optimizing and
decomposing the error, as well as for making himself aware of inevitability, and allowing for the mediation
between the extremes, which will be managed and interacted: that is to say, the musicians, the musical work and
the audience. More crucial than the choices which the programming necessitates is the rejection of elements
which may introduce unwanted noise into the relationship. Mentioned previously was the conflict caused by
outside interests, ones with prejudicial and eventually destructive elements for the programming, yet we must
still bear in mind the internal factor of this task, which is subjectivity. The Programmer should not renounce his
own personal taste; to do so would be to do away with his obligation to mediate. Personal tastes cannot be
interpreted as one conceives of a submarine, like some enclave which neither evolves nor creates communicative
vessels with the relationship-based weight of the event. However, subjectivity must still set out on a path outside
itself and project itself toward an exterior reality and be sensitive to the signals which it receives from itself,
juxtaposing itself onto the consideration of interests of a commercial nature and processes of hierarchization and
recognition, structured upon values and criteria of an order which is (re)defined by the self- and mutual
certification of the work itself and on whom the evaluation occurs. Thus, we must disconnect ourselves from the
pre-defined and exclusive positions of aesthetic criteria because analyses based on apriorism of the musical act
cannot help but affect the disposition of those who attend the concerts as well as their later interpretation of the
musical event. This resulting contagion of confusion generated by the various agents operating within the context
of jazz imposes a critique prior to the performance of the event, restricting those involved in value judgments and
kidnapping the Programmer and making him a hostage to himself, condemned to the attitude of a solipsist who
cannot fulfill the task which he has been handed - to promote the disinterested focus on contact with this music.
              THE FESTIVAL AS AN EVENT: 
                   FORMAT AND IDENTITY

a) A concept of a festival

A festival is not an unconnected set of events in a void but a logical whole, an organic body which cannot be
analyzed without bearing in mind its unity. It is impossible to present and disseminate something while erasing
its rear-guard and its past, and by uprooting its history and its connection to the present. When we plan the
Program, the same questions always come to mind: What does it mean to have a jazz festival these days? Is there
a specific method that allows us to identify the spot for this music and achieve (through an event) some
identifying, safe and universal hallmark which helps to disseminate and legitimize it and its performances?

Bearing in mind these doubts and some of the behaviors previously mentioned, we have come across many
answers: from the possibility to orient alignment in a criterion which is inspired exclusively in the genres, types,
styles and approaches to jazz along the various phases of the music’s history, up to the selection of musicians or
songs which only seek to furnish the slightest basis of information on the phenomenon without any regard to
history or stylistics. The program will be richer still if it succeeds in soliciting the greatest number of
simultaneous and different readings, ones which reflect a varied musical structure which foment various points
of view and incentivize the participation of audiences and their greater attendance at concerts. With this
objective in mind, we have tried to add a wider range of stimuli and insinuations which will result directly in a
variety of proposals. The diversity of styles and genres for each arrangement, and their multiple associations and
ideas suggested by the artists present and by the innumerable parallel activities, have created an atmosphere of
openness to the performance of the music, itself brought together in a coherent aesthetic profile in the
consolidated and expressive production of the concerts on offer.

The festival is meant to be a free and spontaneous performance space where individuals are encouraged to
discover a new feeling that impels them to undertake a spirit of inquiry and learning. Given these terms, the
project is developed within a model of communality in which the public becomes quite involved and participates
actively - something totally different from the stratagems used for marketing shows, ones set upon the simple
scheme of supply and demand, which requires a mere passive consumer attitude.

All sales techniques are associated with a set of theatrical techniques which focuses on how well a consumer’s
incredulity can be manipulated, which means producing a type of anxiety which causes him/her to buy more.
There is a will to persuade, which dramatically distorts the perception of those things which will be purchased or
acquired. The artistic foundation of certain cultural events comes dramatically close to the discourse of
convincing, which exploits the desire to own or possess in a rather intense way. The illusion experienced by the
purchase or acquisition of a product is related to the feeling of exacerbation of actually owning it, and thus it
assumes a debilitating role in a society which incentivizes passivity and consigns its trust to the absence of critical
spirit in favor of easy access to consumption. The instant feeling of satisfaction given by the ownership of the
object is a detour with respect to the need to reconcile the knowledge of the psychological gaps seen in
consumerism and the understanding of the world. We are, therefore, not interested in developing a sales or
purchasing technique where later versions of the same, marketed to future relationships between the festival and
its audience, will replace the already-attained human relationships which we enjoy. We have already come up
with a set of artistic arguments which attest to our choices and which supply the programming guidelines with
coherence, a minimal unity of understanding, and a noise-less discourse which is formalized in the concerts and
texts which document it, and which frontally reject the manipulatory logic and rhetoric of sales of the event as a
cultural product.

b) The definition of a format - a long path

The festival should be seen as an organization-based platform which is made up of core group of concerts
performed in the Grand Auditorium which has lasted over the years with just a few occasional modifications.
Guimarães Jazz has created a framework, a base structure upon which the worth of small objective differences
has been noted, factors which allow changes to turn into something which may have symbolic significance and a
unique identity. The fact that our planning comes with no obligatory recourse to a specific artistic format, and
being more flexibly built because of this, makes a balanced program more possible and shows that consensus can
be reached over a wide variety of tastes. It was when other similar events had stopped functioning, thus opening
up the field for us, that we understood the best context for the performances and what should be the best way to
proceed. Attention given to others and the broader programming scope have helped to expand the festival within
its possible framework, thus creating commitments and new friendships which have since grown stronger and
expressed themselves ever more clearly.

Before the confirmation of any line-up, the organization draws up some guidelines and the format to be followed.
Guimarães Jazz has grown like the plant whose vines extend in different directions, affirming its presence with a
multi-polar vision such that it creates focus-points which attract the widest possible attention, more so than with
a simple hosting of a concert. Guimarães Jazz is laid out in a harmony of space and time with additional side
events having different purposes and goals (of an educational, festive or convivial nature) and none
overshadowing the other. It seeks to attract a variety of people, to appeal to various, unique interests and to
discover reasons for the public to attend, thus avoiding the cloistering effect of elitist and militant ghettos as well
as any marginalization from those around us. Its high points are the concerts given in the Grand Auditorium,
which are indeed the pinnacle, serving to crystallize and individualize the artistic criteria and values which
sustain the festival and identify it. Occupying the premiere spot within the jazz tradition are the Jam Sessions,
musical performance moments in which our affection for the musicians grows, causing spontaneous moments of
improvisation and pure competition to occur; this is collective ritualization processed through music. The Jazz
Workshops constitute the essential pedagogical component of a festival of this kind - they offer young musicians
the opportunity to have direct contact with prominent and experienced performers and are an indispensible
element to the festival. The Guimarães Jazz/TOAP Project, begun in 2006, is based on the collaboration between
the Tone of a Pitch recording label, whose objective it is to build closer ties among the jazz community in
Portugal. Their recording of concerts is one of their most important activities, which affords the concert event the
opportunity to document itself and build up an archive. Having gone through various transformations over the
years, their Big Band project has evolved into a learning activity in partnership with the Big Band from the Escola
Superior for Music and the Performing Arts, directed by a resident musician or musicians. Their concert is an
end-product of a week of rehearsals which fulfill the learning expectations held by the participating musicians.
This intervention creates a collective dynamic of interaction and allows for the exchange of experiences.

With the move to the Vila Flor Cultural Centre facilities in 2005, the history of Guimarães Jazz takes a
momentous turn in its history. This move enabled the level of production, technical, communication and image
support to improve dramatically. Nevertheless, the most important modification was felt in the fact that a new
auditorium was now at our disposal, a larger, 800-seat space with an infrastructure whose quality would
certainly assure greater audiences. The space restrictions felt at previous venues now being a thing of the past,
the new facilities, with improved logistical and technical production values, allowed for expansion and growth of
the festival, preventing it from falling into a state of fatigue. Faced with this change for the better, the festival
redefined and reset its programming guidelines in order to optimize and make the advantages of the Vila Flor
Cultural Centre more profitable. This constitutes just one among many possible examples which indicate how we
must constantly adapt and define the festival with regard to its context, its advantages, or its internal/external
limitations vis-à-vis the space, the people and the experiences which share the same nature and goals.

The final line-up for each Guimarães Jazz festival is the result of an arduous process of research, contacts and
contracts carried out by a group of people broad in scope who work throughout the year previous to the festival
year. There is always some project in mind, some idea to propose and put into practice, an idea which at times we
ourselves do not completely control. After everyone has considered the list of artists for the program, new
readings and understandings of the eventual program come into play, sparking new energies to participate and
fueling curiosity about the instrumentalists. Often, the events themselves surpass the expectations formed at the
outset. We have learned something over time, and we have understood that there is little interest in overusing the
same performers; in the same way we have noted the importance of showcasing the great names of jazz at
Guimarães Jazz, inscribing them in the Jazz Hall of Fame. The programming should spark interactions with the
public such that there are greater means to attract and entice the public, ones able to create an atmosphere of
overall confidence which can influence audiences. The programming organization must captivate all types of
people, not only those who are the most attentive and informed about jazz, but also those who are less familiar
with jazz and who might choose to have a first contact with the music. We have attempted to avoid an excessive
degree of intellectual seriousness about the festival, for the sake of establishing the best conditions for having
access and closeness to it. We do not negate the need for or the importance of the knowledge of art and art
history; however, we deem that this is neither the opportune moment nor context for theoretical and more
complex approaches about jazz. Everything should take place upon a terrain free of any noise and solicitations
which might steal our attention away, since there is a risk of lessened impact for those who are in search of an
experience. At the root of this construction is the pleasure in doing things well, that certain spirit of the artisan
who is contrary to a world that is too movement-oriented. The desire to do things simply for the pleasure of
having done them well is rooted in personal experience over time. When people acquire new products, without
using any particular criteria, they are in fact looking for satisfaction and acting like an insatiable consumer, in
opposition to the artisan who is both proud of and master of what he creates. He always knows how to exploit all
the advantages of his professional abilities and rigorousness, with there being those who might affirm that the
“me” of the artist could well lead to a feeling of possession that is deprived of generosity. Nevertheless, this spirit
possesses a primordial virtue, increasingly lacking in today’s societies: commitment. The obsessive artisan
believes in the objective value of what he creates, and it is only through rehearsals and successive errors that he
improves. Underlying this attitude is the development of talent and specific skill for organization which unfolds
in stages and in irregular impulses. Within the context of the festival, we would like to explore ideas and work
with them to the very end, and in doing so, create an event that can grow and carry us along with it. If we were to
cut back on the time spent putting Guimarães Jazz together, our learning experience would be much more
difficult, causing us to sit back and merely ponder the questions instead of dealing with them. It is only from this
disinterested posture that we can benefit, just as the artisans do, from the guarantees of survival. It is our wish to
favor all types of collaboration on a personal and intimate level through mutual agreement, which, for its part,
also signifies a type of cloistering and renouncement since, in fact, we are concentrating on a single unique focus

c) Identity and programming

As various shifts have verified for us, participation in a multi-cultural world calls for a strong and credible
identity. Currently, the formation of hybrid and heterogeneous identities requires means of disseminations that
are flexible and non-imposing in an anti-persuasive non-discourse. For decision-making purposes, individuals
become actors with a certain cultural way of acting which does not suggest exaggerated levels of homogeneity
and uniformity which allow for monolithic and generalist expressions in the manifestation of taste. We consider
each audience to be unique and impossible to repeat, in contrast with the concept of mass society which would
suppress the individualities of the subject. In this event/person duality, the intention is to preserve the individual
with his idiosyncrasies and dissimilarities against all sorts of actions which might flatten and standardize the
construction of identity and singularity.

Guimarães Jazz has assumed a broader space by providing those who enjoy this type of music, and those who are
looking for their first contact with this music, with a concert and event cycle which offers opportunities to listen
to various types of music. What we truly appreciate is the sense of satisfaction when our work is accomplished
and when we see a participatory and relationship-centered reaction from the public at the performances. We
refuse to accept the ‘fashion process’ in which one idea of brand reigns and does not allow the activities of the
festival to blend into a singular media-based display. If we chose not to do this, it would be just one more concert
or one more musician at the event to impress the audience, putting at risk all the differences agreed upon within
the program guidelines, which would strip away all the diversity of a homogenous and uniform consumer
product. The public should act like an artisan as well, magnifying the dissimilarities, thus comprehending the
passion of the moment with nothing to distract them or to lessen how demanding it is. The challenge consists in
describing what is different in each one of the musical moments, placing them within the unified artistic concept.
To magnify the differences without the proper mindset to defend against not becoming a slave to the desire to
participate is essentially a form of freedom that is only possible with authentic and spontaneous participation.

Time is an essential element which serves to solidify, facilitating the interpretations of a multiplicity of narratives
which justify, explain and confirm the validity and the interest of the choices made. There are many factors
which might jeopardize our line-up, and it is always difficult to reconcile the availability of the musicians with
the festival calendar. The program is set a year in advance, and later the contracts are drawn up. The conception
of the line-up needs time and creativity since it is necessary to have access to the performers’ European tour
schedule to confirm the final set of options. It is only in this way that coherence can be maintained.

Nowadays, things have to be fast and have to show results and success. People do not like to experience abrupt
changes in their lives especially when they occur without the proper justification; people feel anxious, insecure
and ill-at-ease. Short-term thinking prevails over growth, and the greatest limitation for this type of event is the
lack of time to mature; this is because growing requires that knowledge accumulate slowly, as if it were layers of
sediment forming. For this to occur naturally, it is essential to have the time to take risks and to correct faults in
order to ponder and find the most appropriate means to carry out ideas. Perhaps many of the questions discussed
earlier might help to explain why Guimarães Jazz has had the necessary time to ponder and consolidate its
identity, and at the same time, has achieved a constant upward trajectory. This might well be considered an
unusual event given the speed with which things change in the world these days.

When jazz is linked to a strategy for dissemination and performance - a festival - its artistic center seeks out an
affinity among the concerts, one accompanied by the arguments justifying the presence of the musicians in the
line-up and by the differences underlying their singularity. The coherence of the program thus takes on a new
direction and contour, brought about by an exercise in comparisons.

Guimarães Jazz has created a way for the concerts to understand each other, subjecting them to a pre-defined
order via intuitive impulses which allow for the preservation of a spontaneity which cannot be touched should the
line-up fall victim to exclusively rational criteria. This in no way excludes the specific particular nature of each
contact with jazz since its unity is reconstructed from this conflict.

The range of hidden and complex relationships makes the festival a unique moment framed in a fabric of
common points and diversities which unite with other external elements and do not cancel each other out. The
history of each project appears as a factor of exteriorization, a search for topics which show substantial richness
in the plurality of how they can be read and understood. A festival is a montage overflowing with meaning, a type
of happening represented in the concerts proposed - the references, information and message which invades us
and calls us to reflect on what is taking place. This montage can be felt by those who participate and discover a
pull toward the program put together in this way. The public becomes a type of visitor conditioned to gather in
knowledge, sound out the problems which arise from choice, and wrestle with and penetrate the endless number
of occurrences which have power over and inundate it. The more information we add, the more exposed we are to
ambiguities which may cause conflict.
                      THE RELATIONSHIP 
                         WITH THE PUBLIC

a) Introductory notes

A program is thought of exclusively along the lines of establishing a fresh relationship with the public. At its
origin is the need to correspond to the expectations of those who are interested in jazz. We have tried to bridge
the gap, reaching out to a broader range of individuals who cannot be treated as a mass group of people, not even
with a collective approach.
The declaration of a grand historical synthesis was a dangerous dream, and in regard to certain aspects, the
revolution always operated in opposition to democracy. Modernity does not mean the triumph of one as a
proposal for universal change, but rather its disappearance and its replacement with the difficult management of
daily life. In the indispensible and complicated interaction between rationalization and individual liberty, the
20th century revealed exceedingly cruel violence, no longer allowing the slightest trust in the virtue of history or
in the innocence of progress. The present beckons us to open up a clearing in the forest of technology, regulations
and consumer-based bureaucracies in order to take greatest advantage of the primacy of freedom over everything
else. A festival must be a space allowing for escape and moments of generalized revitalization which incentivize
contentment through cultural experimentation.

The public which began to become interested in jazz at the beginning of the 20th century, sought in this music,
and the cinema as well, a highly innovative art form deemed to be the mark of modernity and the avant-garde. At
the same time, they wanted to be identified with a culturally-advanced elite eager to be seen atop the
transformations and convulsions being felt in matters social, technological and artistic. This bestowed upon jazz
the direct association with the idea of the tribe, an exclusive group in which the music would act as the symbolic
device for access and acceptance - the emblem of the most cultured and enlightened. These statements highlight
the two fundamental and apparently contradictory bonds between the public and jazz: on the one hand, it
recognizes the artistic importance granted by the introduction of ruptures and innovations to the musical canon
(an evolution seen in a short amount of time but not accompanied by aesthetic transformations in the plastic arts
or literature although all these manifestations took place within the framework of osmosis of references and
artistic practices: improvisation, increasingly complex rhythms, the discontinuity of musical phrasing,
automatism, the use of non-conventional instrumentation); and on the other hand it singles out the relationship
motivated by extra-musical reasons of affirmation of cultural status - the ideal of contesting something through
scandal and confrontation with society and the path to assuming a radical political position. 

b) Cascais Jazz and the death of a paradigm for a festival

The political component so often associated with jazz in Portugal can be explained by taking into account the
cultural phenomenon connected with the birth of the Cascais Jazz festival. This event became extremely
representative because it brought together social, political, economic and artistic elements. Begun during the
years of the dictatorship and cultural isolation in Portugal, the festival was transformed, much against its will
and nature, and despite its extraordinary musical merit, into a political forum for protesting the regime masked
as a cultural event dedicated to jazz performances. In fact, it is only in this way that we can understand to what
extent a festival with such a character and organized under such adverse political conditions could have made a
go of it and brought in more than 10,000 people per night, tearing down all sorts of walls of separation, itself
even more meaningful an achievement given that this was the early 1970s where only a well-informed minority
was aware of cultural events taking place in Europe, the USA and the world and where the majority was blocked
from any such access.

Cascais Jazz is a crucial reference point in the cultural and music history in Portugal given its confluence of
meanings, transformations and contacts which it set free, opening the door to other forms of learning and other
festivals. Nevertheless, the fragile nature of the bonds (namely political ones) between the public and jazz
became evident, and this led to the weakening of the climate of protest against the system given that the social
reality was changing. These changes led to a re-thinking of the strategies underlying the festival.

c) The programmer and the Other

A festival is not just ‘invented’ by those who envision it, but also by those persons who have contact with it. The
listener begins with his/her personal mind-set, one not as yet connected to the performances, and then after
contact with the music, he/she shapes the festival like clay, molding it with the multiplicity of information and
emotions being experienced. For this relationship to bear the most fruit, it is crucial that the conception of the
event not impose itself but rather invite people to unfettered enjoyment within an atmosphere laid out as a space
free of any constraint. It is in the complicit, sharing relationship that the constant renewal of stimuli is required.
From the challenge in which the initial agreement is born - out of seduction, surprise and the presentation of the
different readings of jazz presented - new forces of attraction for prolonging and reiterating the dialogue emerge.

A bond of this nature implies two presuppositions: the awareness of the other as an entity able to assess and
judge, and the knowledge afforded those who attend the concerts - something which is only possible through
effective conflict management and the pledge to sensitivity inherent to the signing of a mutual and radically
differentiating agreement.

d) Mass society and global society

The public is the most important conduit to diffuse information, ecstatic in the way that various forms of
received cultures are dealt with, and moving about in a complex interaction of the place where such occurrences
comes from and the present moment. These two factors intermingle via the communication of creative, dynamic
and constant composition, leading to open and hybrid formats for understanding. What is thus being created is a
complex and heterogeneous community founded upon a multi-lingual collective, divided into groups which
follow their own paths in life. Having left behind the community of the masses characterized by the anonymity of
its members, by the absence of social reciprocity and by indifference felt toward individuals, the people who
emerge from the ruins of this society define themselves by their desire to be near like-minded people, albeit
assuming respective individual differences. This individual is the result of a new era of transition from the society
of the masses to a global society. This person must survive the convergence of two phenomena: the acceleration
and resulting globalization of the world and the decay of the post-war established order. The pro-democratic
atmosphere favors mobility, proximity and confrontations. For this reason, man was obliged to subsist in a
network structure, variable, dynamic and deprived of reference points. This atmosphere makes the application of
actions influenced by the centralist/directionist criteria more difficult. If we compare the social, political and
economic context in which the avant-garde emerged (considered the front-guard of artistic and aesthetic
elaboration through which all cultural challenges were organized) with the current context, we note the non-
existence of any conditions where the avant-garde might exercise any rejuvenating influence. At the time, the
avant-garde needed a society organized along hierarchical and functional lines to manifest itself. Today, the
world has changed, and there is no longer any need for that shocking, jolting action in order to change anything
at all because we have gone from a monolithic society with an enormous capacity for consumption to another
society much more eager to upset the idea of selfishness, indifference and the tendency for individual isolation
and the breaking off into large groups. The network society has abandoned the pyramid organization in order to
adopt a more complex form, structured upon a flat surface and intersected by crossroads and contacts, in myriad
acts of communication. In this complex terrain, the most important cultural occurrences are seen at the moment
when people, individually, interact with art; speaking more concretely, it would be in this first contact with jazz
that each person would see him/herself reflected, and in doing so, be able to initiate those habits which would
lead to a deeper perception and understanding of musical phenomena.

e) The public and subjectivity

People are the result of the balance between a project and memory, appearing to us as a distinctive whole, where
life, thought, experience and conscience all combine. The ambivalence in this unity is reflected in the tension felt
between two modes of articulation, necessitating constant movements of passage or transference from the
spheres of self-consciousness to other spheres: from the state of the Subject, viewed in a more generalist manner
and as part of a totality, to a state of the Individual which possesses a specific and profound knowledge of life. It
is through the control exercised over life that the individual acquires his/her own personal path and is
transformed into an agent and placed within various social relationships. This immersion into the social alters
the individual and prevents him/her from identifying completely with a group or collectivity. Once immediate
contact with jazz occurs, a proliferation of subjective judgments and evaluations is seen, which are in constant
change, growing more complex and requiring communication models that are broad enough to spark curiosity
and promote participation.
The relationship with the public inevitably requires a position where a certain distance is maintained. At the very
least, this requires a type of reformulation of compromise in which the event constitutes the bridge which
facilitates the affective, emotional and aesthetic passage between the musicians and the public. Yet it is only the
public who should speak; they are the ones who should engage in discourse. The appearance of the
proposer/programmer in this task of consensual change is what distracts and make the core motivation of the
encounter impossible - the experiencing of the event and the subsequent emotional reaction caused by it. This is
the true dialogue, and its transparency must be safeguarded against the noise caused by the excessive proximity
of interests which spoil relationships and which may transform a pure and amenable proposal into a mark of
imposition - the opinion or ephemeral impulse of the absolute affirmation of an ego which seeks to constrain the
freedom and subjectivity of the public, which not only take possession of the event but also assume an exclusive
dialogue with the public.

a) Jazz and memory

We live in such global times that this fact escapes our capacity for assimilation, making us hostages to many
problems which have no solution. As is happening with the environment, the artistic and cultural worlds are
experiencing hardships within the framework of ideological devastation caused by growing consumerism.
Culture is at the mercy of media and means of communication where zapping and sound-bites are
entertainment; art has voluntarily handed itself over to the principle of “maximum impact and immediate
obsolescence.” One’s attention can only be kept for only the smallest fraction of time, and via shock and scandal,
and it is given this fact that we can say that artistic endeavors have been stripped of their subversive capital
because they have surrendered to the dominant mindset of the system and of the market. As a symbolic authority
of life, culture loses its influence, and in a parallel way, the audio-visual industry has developed through the
proliferation of games and technological artifacts which invite us to discover new virtual worlds and to spend
long hours in front of some type of screen, watching images pass by. We have left behind us the cycle of immortal
works of art which elevated people in favor of an entrance to a reality where people only want to acquire an end-
product, thus satisfying a need created by an ingenious system of advertising and marketing. Cultural industries
are looking to increase the distraction and access to the cultural object, making entertainment and commercial
exploitation easier within the surrounding space. The value of the spirit is replaced by indiscriminate
consumption, and what is durable is exchanged for what is disposable, in the same way that money has destroyed
the now by-gone prestige of thought, wiping out the universal human dimension structured upon meditation and
reflection. We see nowadays a multiplication of silly cultural manifestations which do not appeal to any
conscious level of the world and impose themselves on us against our will, often becoming quite obscene. We are
confronted with a profusion of events and shows which pulverize any concept of beauty and a long-lasting work
of art. The contemplative and aesthetically-oriented attitude is supplanted by the series of strobe-light flashing
images meant to catch the eye and spark consumption. We must find a path that is contrary to the generalized
lack of aesthetic concerns regarding culture, and interrupt, in an efficient manner, this overall promotion of
superficiality. We must still learn to take advantage of sensory enrichment by embracing art, by keeping a critical
distance and by being open to beauty despite the utilitarian perspectives of its manifestations. And it is
increasingly difficult to establish an organic contact with the past while we all live in a type of perpetual present,
with our history being written at high-speed.

The only way for us to have a total art experience requires emotion. It calls for us to disconnect from our
principles, values and preconceived notions. The way that the avant-garde in the past was formulated and
established was centered on the definition of an artistic object to which a certain symbology, a specific posture,
and an iconography of scandal and confrontation were attributed - factors foreign to the relationship with art
which is not reconciled with emotion. The excesses of avant-garde-ism and their successive innovative and new
ideas lead to a social posture which translates into exhibitionism and sterile ostentations which limit the
responses to the appeals of universality and inclusion which are constantly being thrown about by art.

b) “What are the limits of jazz?” - an unnecessary question

To reconfigure the contemporary space puts unavoidable questions before us on the subject of communication.
The introduction of digital networks and virtual pathways for information transmission has called for new
approaches to language, which have caused problems and raised certain solutions. With the consequent change
in the communicative process, there has been a radical change in the paradigm of both reciprocity and living in
society, and reflective perceptions on reality and, inseparably, art itself. Today, we attempt to describe and
problematize unstable and uncertain categories from which only an accelerated transformation can be intuited.
The stable representation of the world is, at this moment, unknown to us, and we should concentrate our efforts
in the direction of decodifying its ciphered language in order for us to act upon what it real. Pressure coming
from the fact that today we neither know how to read the world nor how to intervene within it infers the presence
of doubt and anguish, thus generating more misunderstanding and more communication blockage.

As a public happening, the festival is an attempt to resolve conflicts of contemporaneity through consensus,
comprehensive movements and commitments - something contrary to the sumptuous parade of exhibitionism
sparked as much by scandal as by the most current avant-garde simulations. There are still people out there who
consider art a central core in expansion, the result of tireless efforts to affirm the militant minority which, taking
off from their origins in the elitist ghetto, worship art and appreciate it universally, continuing to ignore a world
whose central core has been lost forever - everything is margin.
Creating topics of controversy and polemization on the definitions of jazz does not resolve any of its problems,
nor does it help to construct a profile of the festival built upon an advantageous and wide-reaching dialogue with
people. The programs must be utilitarian plans for musical performance and sources of pragmatic action which
are not subjected to the images of propaganda and marketing but which assume the exclusive and free space for
understanding and enjoyment. Reaction to the concerts constitutes an assertive response to the event planning -
the musicians play and the audience listens - which has no interest in transforming the event into a ritualized
forum or debate to ponder the limits of the music.

We do not deny how pertinent the discourse and critical questioning of art is, including the specific case of jazz.
We prefer the dialogue wherein we may define the limits of its borders, its physical relationship with the world
and with more recent transformations. Nevertheless, as a public act of performance with a relationship-based
purpose, a festival is not the proper place to show anguish or put more-or-less internal assessments on display: in
our opinion, it is place for doing things and not for pondering or arguing (these latter two should assume a lesser
role). Between us and reality there are a multitude of obstacles to reading; the present is a vortex of storms, its
center immaterial and confusing, about which we can only make simplified perceptive approximations, ones
producing contradictory reflections; breaking the code requires time and distance with respect to the object.

c) The logic of disorientation and resentment

Social conflicts are caused by the reconfiguration of politics and economy. In the past, inequality provided people
who were eager to find their saving moment with the energy which could transform the world. Today, new forces
of pressure have emerged, obliging individuals to rapidly assimilate all types of incomprehensible, complex,
uncontrollable and directionless changes. Out of this state of things a feeling of helplessness materializes, whose
internal tensions within the system produce nothing if not massive doses of resentment. Today’s citizen is a man
who is irritated because he feels, despite all his efforts to follow the rules of the game, cheated and unashamedly
mistreated. Beyond the satisfaction achieved by the intense and indiscriminate consumption of things, we live in
a society without a viable alternative, and for this reason the performance of a cultural event should avoid any
type of agitation or uneasiness within the already worn-out and crushed social fabric in which we must find other
points of reference able to furnish us with stabilizing elements of individual and collective identity.

d) Jazz and post-modernism

Scandal - the essential product for the affirmation of the avant-garde - today no longer holds the slightest sway
when needing to achieve any type of disruption or apoplexy in the middle class, declared ‘the enemy’ for being the
class holding power. Art was once used as a model causing impact and lack of understanding, shaking up the
system and creating conditions for the expected revolution. One wonders if the term “post-modern,” coined to
capture the entire contemporary age, has any justifiable use nowadays. At the end of the 1970s we began a new
stage called hyper-modernity. This change did not occur because we overcame a previous phase but because the
new cycle, one associated with greater potential than the former modernity and imbued with extreme power,
took on a new superlative level where reality is being read in the triple metamorphosis which blends the
democratic-individualist order, the market dynamics order and the techno-science order - a world in which
structuring forces able to intervene in any modifications no longer exist. We live in an era of particularisms
characterized by a hyperbolic spiral of behaviors and a final assault, in its death throes, of artistic manifestations
reflected in the widest range of technological, economic, social and individual spheres. Erratic and fleeting in its
temporal framework, the avant-garde deprived individuals of the sense of narrative movement since it was
inspired in the randomness of the unconscious, in creation in real time and in the world of dreams. Today it is
impossible to return to a strategy which from the outset refuses all formal innovation for the defense of the value
of the unconscious as the place from which a contingent and uncertain world of words and symbols come from,
in which imagination that is spontaneous and non-measured by systems of rational control is anchored, taking us
to a visibly illogical, imaginary universe. With the objective of rejecting art itself, the avant-garde fed upon this
destruction in a presupposition inscribed within the universal revolution, whose public tumultuousness was one
of its main points of cohesion.  The more recent concept of “innovation in the context of art” transmits another
meaning since the search for the new corresponds to a demand from the market and from the system
disinterested with respect to the need for conflict and confrontation with society and its values. The avant-garde
is today an anachronism because there is no “enemy” to do battle with; what remains is its formal reinvention,
removed from any component having a political or anti-institutional slant or claim of redress.

f) Jazz, politics and the market

Every year there are innumerable festivals in regions far afield from the cities of Lisbon and Oporto, which is a
positive and revealing sign of jazz’s appeal. However, this phenomenon may not necessarily be directly linked to
the democratization of art.
When we blend thought, creativity and action, we run the risk of committing a dangerous mistake which affects
previous cultural events. Action has a clear connotation with political activity and should not be confused with
creativity and/or art. As a principle of egalitarian participation, democracy belongs to the field of action, and in
this sense, there is no type of immediate bond with art and more thought-related activity. To speak of concepts as
“to democratize through art” take us back to the time in which people believed it possible to build ideal societies
formed by the elites in which the role of activists would be to make the lesser-civilized more refined, civilized and

In our lack of respect for the differentiating features of thought, creativity and action, we put our ‘following the
right path’ at risk via artistic commonness and the lack of quality, although we should not attribute this fact to
the proliferation of festivals. The growing importance of the culture market has been seen by some as an
expropriation, with their criticisms strongly pitched against this occasion of mass-expansion. The protest was
against the invading forces of the market which had appropriated culture, earning profit and installing a
uniformity of content upon us through the homogeneity of cultural products. The thought was that a new type of
media-base was being formed in an insipid and uncharacteristic artistic practice with the possibility of cultural
uniformity established in the monotonous indifference of the public in terms of taste and choice, impoverished by
the inability to evaluate the events both ethically and culturally. Curiously, the cultural market of the
globalization era seems to benefit from diversity and the accelerated rhythm of passing fashions. The
banalization and the uniformization of taste have not been seen as might be expected, in the incurable loss of
assessment criteria and the adoption of minimally predictable artistic formulas. The world created by the new
cultural agents, deprived of ethical direction and given over exclusively to the commercial aspects of their
business dealings, brings with it a whirlpool of products, often at loggerheads with each other, causing
distortions and confusion for those who want to understand, obliging us to seek out new strategies to survive and
resist the commonness of its manifestations.

Confronted with these questions, Guimarães Jazz has been making its organization more autonomous: it knows
and directly contacts musicians and their agents, and it defends its artistic values and principles. This
independence has been made possible only through the adoption of a deeply-rooted spirit of freedom based on
the actions taken by independent organizations. The festival has transformed into a body with a mixed
framework and integrated into an institutional status, based on and respecting relatively stable artistic codes.
This organizational model is a risky bet since its survival is a precarious balancing act on an unstable and
undefined borderland between the institutional and non-institutional (independent and/or alternative spaces). It
has thus evolved through a progressive formula of affirmation, with a certain dose of marginal status with
respect to the institutional, and yet formalized in a light and more flexible structure of the interaction of the
partners who make up its organizational core. The rejection of hierarchical-functional logic has favored a team-
based spirit of solidarity and multi-functioning which allows the festival to open itself up to a more dynamic level
of participation in which the performer and the public are equals on the same playing field. It was this new
reality, in fact, which caused this event to be born as an autonomous and free-intervention space to incentivize
new approaches and new levels of participation adapted to the present time, to ephemerality, mobility and
constant modification to the accelerated and head-spinning pace of the world today. The transformations seen in
more recent cultural and social phenomena oblige us to rethink the definitions of paradigms for the holding of
the festival, leading us to explore other formats for creating, adapting and receiving art which is more rightly
adjusted to reality.

                          FINAL NOTES:
                      A WORD OF CAUTION

Those who conceive of the festival program should give explanation of the roots underlying a sense of taste which
is emotive, individual and collective all at the same time. When one reflects upon a choice, considering first its
cultural origins, one rationalizes in private and acts like an individual who is not totally free because one is
ethically and subjectively limited by a universal dimension of reason. The private space is one of idiosyncrasies, a
place where wild creativity and imagination reign and where moral considerations are suspended; the public
space is one of social interaction where we must obey the rules of living together in order not to harm others. The
private space is one of irony and an opportunity for us to act critically in relation to ourselves, whereas the public
space is one of solidarity, a door open to tolerance and relationships with others.
When this duality is forgotten and a festival program is elaborated upon, one representing the people who chose
the concerts and each one’s individual taste, a type of short-circuit occurs in the relationship between the public
and private components of the event. In this way, we can see the festival as a unique moment of mediation
between the people and the place where all types of rationales are established and assessments are made about
what is being heard. We will fail to reach the goals for construction if we are unable to balance these two fields of
action because we are impeding the affirmation of will of the emancipatory universality living in every one of us,
in the limits imposed by identity and position, individually considered within the social order. 

Stories, as well as knowledge, reading and listening, are endless topics for the foundation and perfection of ideas.
They are constant points of reflection which are made up of a ceaseless stream of questions, discoveries and
rejections. The programs offered by Guimarães Jazz have included many actions of selecting, and each option
gets an identifying narrative rolling, one able to attribute an aesthetic profile to the immense artistic experience,
in development and in operation since the beginning.