Is it right to say that there are still peripheral regions in the world? Maybe. In politics, economy and culture, History shows us that the East and the South of the world aren’t the focal points where things do HAPPEN. But this scenario changed for the better, due to the Internet revolution, the democratization of technology and a different organization of “international affairs”. More importantly, there was a change in mindset: if, until recently, the principle for entrepreneurship and creativity was “think global, act local”, people understood that the correct path is to act as you think, not depending from geographical circumstances: globally.
That’s what explains the success of the Portuguese record label Clean Feed. Far from the cradle of jazz in the USA, and also far from the capital cities (be it in Europe, Japan, Canada or somewhere else) where this music language gained its universalization (no, it isn’t “classical American music” anymore), this little company based in Lisbon turned to be one of the most important on the planet in what concerns the diffusion of a type of music not exactly favored by the mass consumption circuits. Because of the number of releases, because of the quality of its catalogue and because of its artists list, reuniting many of the most important international musicians in activity.
Two decades ago, no one in Portugal, or outside for that matter, could expect something like this to be possible. It’s true that this country had some epic achievements five centuries ago, but poverty and 48 years of a fascist regime imposed “small thinking” (not even local thinking, but simply conformist, humble, unimaginative and, well, little) as a norm. But it happened, and it happened in the middle of a financial crisis and of austerity measures making everything even worse. At the same time, the national jazz scene exploded, with festivals and concerts being organized by the municipalities, and with young and astonishing musicians revealing themselves. A special dynamism spread in every corner. Suddenly, Lisbon, and also Porto, up north, became important centers of the jazz world.
It all began in 2001, with ambition, passion and some lunacy. What about now? Well, the only certainty is that this bunch of Portuguese jazz fans will continue to want the improbable, believing that’s the only way to be reasonable in this spaceship called Earth.
Rui Eduardo Paes