Students of jazz have started to flock to the Portuguese capital, and with good reason. The levels of musicianship, weekly jam sessions, array of venues and stunning scenery is enough to tantalise any creative. We visited Lisbon for a few 'research' weeks back in March 2018, meeting players from around the world.
Hot Clube de Lisbon is one of Europe's oldest jazz clubs. Over the years it has hosted huge icons like Ronnie Scott, Sarah Vaughan and Terence Blanchard. It was another rainy night filled with springtime energy when I visited this landmark venue in March 2018. This event programmed this particular evening was a part of the festival of animation taking place across Lisbon in March, The jazz ensemble played along part-improvised to microfilm animations displayed on the big screen TV. The tiny room was packed full of attendees, many of whom talented musicians themselves, as we would later discover in the jam session. I was using some fliers to cool myself down, so the venue manager gave me a branded Hot Club fan! WENZL MCGOWEN who was visiting from NYC jumped on the stage to blow his saxophone during the jam. He was magnificent as you can see in this video we filmed.
If you LOVE watching jam sessions and jumping on stage, you're spoiled for opportunities in Lisbon. By far the coolest and most exciting district is the very central location of Cais do Sodre. This is where you find all manner of nightlife and eating experiences. Cais do Sodre is where you'll find the 'pink strip', Titanic Sur Mer, Time Out Lisbon, Pensao Amor and O Bom O Mau e O Vilao (the good, bad and ugly) to name my personal faves. Monday's is the best night for VERY high quality young jazz music located between O Bom O Mau and Titanic.
On Wednesday's you'll want to head to the neighbourhoods Anjos and Intendente (which are side by side). There's much more of an underground co-operative scene here, and you'll really get to meet the local arts scene in theres areas. Top venues to find here are Crew Hassan and Anjos 70. Perhaps the success of Lisbon's thriving music scene comes down to the relaxed attitude the local government takes to advertising for festivals and club nights, who plaster their posters in multiple locations. It's perfect for tourists and locals alike to learn about all the music, dance, food and cultural activities happening year round. In the month of March when we were there, music, dance and animation festivals and Lisbon fashion week were all running. There is also a regular attending audience, great equipment, both free and paid entry events and lot's of cross-collaboration between venues. I adored Lisbon, and we really want to run Acoustickle events out there.
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