Jetlagged scribblings on the initial Matosinhos Jazz Festival, named for and presented this June in a nearby suburb of Oporto, Portugal's second-largest city but its primary trade and industrial center, about 300 kilometers from Lisbon, overlooking both the Atlantic and the Rio Duoro:
Unlike many European festivals, Matosinhos was no grab bag. All of the headliners were pianists. Abdullah Ibrahim played solo. Paul Bley captained an all-star trio featuring the drummer Al Foster and the bassist George Mraz (Tommy Flanagan's teammates not so long ago). Geri Allen co-led a quartet with her husband, the trumpeter Wallace Roney (Buster Williams was on bass, and Lenny White on drums). Muhal Richard Abrams fronted a sextet with Jack Walrath on trumpet, Clark Gaton on trombone, Patience Higgins on tenor saxophone, Brad Jones on bass, and Reggie Nicholson on drums. Representing the locals was Màrio Laginha, a talented young pianist whom few Americans have heard of, though he is quite well known in Portugal as music director for the neo-traditional pop singer Maria João.
Not counting two solid hours of abstract hully gully from Abrams on closing night, my favorite moment of the festival occurred as I stood waiting outside a restaurant at dusk with a bunch of Portuguese journalists for the van that would take us to that night's show. Raul Vaz Bernardo, a retired bank employee deeply in love with his record collection who now reviews concerts for Expresso, a Lisbon-based weekly, began to sing "Close Your Eyes" in syncopated English and with as much gusto as he