Meet one of Portugal´s most famous jazz musicians
On August 15, at around 10pm, the Algarve Jazz Orchestra (OJA) will present the Great Summer Concert at Carvoeiro Beach, worthy of the most prestigious concert halls in the world. This year’s theme is “Pop & Funk Summer Beats” and guest artist Ana Rita Inácio will be joining them on stage. Much like in previous years, the concert will feature synchronized fireworks, combining visual beauty and musical quality. Conducting the orchestra will be Hugo Alves, one of the most famous names in Portuguese jazz, and synonymous with the genre in the Algarve.
The story of Hugo Alves began in 1980, when he joined the Lagos philharmonic band at age 7. Only in 1991 did the musician find the genre that would change his life, after joining a group of young jazz musicians in Faro. Ever since then, Hugo Alves has made a career for himself as a jazz trumpet player and is one of the genre’s most popular artists in Portugal. Aside from the trumpet, Hugo also plays the flugelhorn. He usually performs as the lead trumpet player or as a soloist, composes and teaches, in addition to organizing Jazz festivals and conducting the Algarve Jazz Orchestra.
Throughout his career Hugo has played in the most famous jazz orchestras in the country, such as the Matosinhos Jazz Orchestra, the Jorge Costa Pinto Orchestra and the Big Band at Hot Club Portugal. In addition, he also collaborated on international projects, such as the Louis Armstrong homage Big Band, in Porto in 2001, conducted by Filipe Laurent. Hugo had the opportunity to work with big names from jazz such as Peter King, Kirk Lightsey, Wayne Dockey, Bob Berg, Conrad Herwig, Ingrid Jensen, Bernardo Sassetti, Mário Laginha or Jorge Costa Pinto. Simultaneously, he has taught jazz at many schools, including renowned ones such as Porto’s Superior School of Music and Performing Arts (ESMAE) and Lisbon’s Superior School of Music (ESML).
In the Algarve he created the Algarve School of Jazz and Modern Music (EJMMA) in 2006 and in that same year he joined forces with the education ministry to create the Jazz at School project. “The project did actually contribute to educating new audiences and, in some cases, even new musicians,” Hugo says, proudly. Most of his time is taken up by the OJA, which he created in 2004 in Lagos and has since moved to Lagoa. The Big Band, comprising 18 musicians, has a repertoire of around 300 themes, which range from swing classics to more contemporary jazz. Inside the OJA there are other formations that can perform separately, like the OJA Redux, which plays mainly Be Bop or Hard Bop; The Messy Band, which plays traditional jazz; the OJA Quintet, which favours more acoustics performances; the OJA’s saxophone quartet, also known as EJMMA All Stars, made up by the EJMMA teachers. In addition to all these groups, the OJA also regularly invites renowned jazz musicians.
Despite always having a full schedule, Hugo Alves wants to release his new album, Magic Stars, soon. His first album, Estranha Natureza, featuring Bruno Santos (guitar), Nuno Correia (double bass) and Jorge Moniz (drums), was released in 2003. It was followed by Taksi Trio, in 2015, featuring Jorge Moniz (drums) and Zé Eduardo (double bass); Given Soul, in 2007, with Pablo Romero (piano), Rodrigo Monteiro (double bass) and Michael Lauren (drums); and lastly, Double Dose, in 2010, featuring pianist and composer Greg Burk. All of Hugo’s works are critically acclaimed jazz albums in Portugal, a testament to his talent.
Leaving the Algarve is out of the question. Hugo has lived in Lisbon and in Porto, been to Italy, Spain and South Africa and received several invitations to work abroad. But “I feel best in the Algarve, my family is here, and, as long as I have projects in the area with OJA, I will stay here”, he concluded.
Text: Anabela Gaspar
Photos: Kátia Viola