By Rui Teixeira, 2022
This story begins in 2001; still in the aftermath of Lisbon’s world exhibition, Expo 98, three years earlier, while Porto was rejoicing as the European Capital of Culture. Jazz in Portugal began to expand, to be more dynamic and independent. The first university degree in this music, at times ill-reputed, took its first steps in the city of Porto. Some protagonists of these academic incursions, eager to discover the secrets of this music in loco, the distant North America where it was born, were also returning to Portugal. We could say that one of them came back like a tornado, such was the importance and consequences of the metaphorical whirlwind he started.
We are talking about André Fernandes, a guitarist and composer from Lisbon, who decided to roll up his sleeves and create a vehicle for the dissemination of his fervent and prolific work, though, at the time, in the opposite direction of the music market. He called it TOAP, short for Tone of a Pitch, one of the most important independent jazz labels in Portugal and abroad. Together with bassist Nelson Cascais and a third collaborator responsible for the graphic design, Alexandre Fernandes, André's brother, TOAP took its first steps with two works by Fernandes and Cascais, respectively: “O Osso” and “Ciclope”. From this double kick-off until its extinction in 2014, and with the detachment that the present day provides, TOAP's complete catalog acquired the status of a historical document on Portuguese jazz from the 21st century.
This extensive collection, compiled over 14 years, outlines the new and emerging artists of Portuguese jazz, such as Fernandes and Cascais themselves or guitarist Nuno Ferreira who, after releasing his work through the Catalan label Fresh Sound New Talent, switched to its Portuguese counterpart, TOAP. The experiences, creative exchanges and friendships established by Fernandes and his peers with musicians from the New York jazz scene, combined with an increasingly balanced level of musicality and aesthetics, enabled the collaboration of many of these New York-based musicians on records released by TOAP. Therefore, names like Ben Monder, Dan Weiss, Matt Pavolka, Akiko Pavolka, David Binney, Matt Renzi, Jacob Sacks and Bill McHenry, among others, are recurring figures in some of TOAP’s editions, as sidemen and, in some cases, as main artists. It is also important to note that established and widely recognised Portuguese musicians such as Mário Laginha or the precociously and tragically deceased Bernardo Sassetti, are also part of TOAP’s history. The historical importance of saxophonist Jorge Reis is also evident in some records, including his own beautiful album “Pueblos”. Without TOAP, we would have fewer records of this remarkable musician.
In 2010 TOAP joined its efforts with the renowned Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos, changing its name to TOAP/OJM. In this new phase that lasted until 2014, the year of its extinction, TOAP/OJM still released several remarkable albums, including “Devil's Dress” the debut of Susana Santos Silva, “Bela Senão Sem” of João Paulo Esteves da Silva with Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos and André Fernandes’ “Motor”.
The list of portuguese jazz musicians and lapidary records of the 21st century included in the TOAP catalog is not infinite but it is vast. Therefore, nothing like having this collection back, now available in digital format, to have a real and absolute notion of its important “whole”. The existence of this record label also brought us here, to the here and now that we know. Everything is a consequence of something and a starting point for something else. TOAP is an active part of that synergy and it is now up to us to preserve it and continue its work, if nothing else to remember it existed. Revisiting and listening to these records is also a way to make history.
TOAP 2001 - 2014 / Afonso Pais, Akiko Pavolka, Albert Sanz, Alexandre Dahmen, Alexandre Fernandes, Alexandre Frazão, Allan Mednard, Álvaro Pinto, Ana Araújo, André Carvalho, André Fernandes, André Matos, André Santos, André Sousa Machado, Andreia Santos, António Augusto Aguiar, António Quintino, António Torres Pinto, AP, Avishai Cohen, Baba Mongol, Ben Gernstein, Ben Monder, Ben Van Gelder, Bernardo Moreira, Bernardo Sassetti, Bill Campbell, Bill McHenry, Bruno Pedroso, Bruno Santos, Carlos Azevedo, César Cardoso, Chris Speed, Cine Qua Non, Claus Nymark, Companhia Dos Sons, Dan Weiss, Daniel Bernardes, Daniel Dias, Dave Ambrosio, David Binney, Demian Cabaud, Desidério Lázaro, DJ Ride, Filipe Melo, Filipe Raposo, Filipe Teixeira, Geoclândio Monteiro, Gerald Cleaver, Gianni Gagliardi, Gileno Santana, Gonçalo Dias, Gonçalo Marques, Hugo Antunes, Hugo Raro, Iago Fernandez, Inês Sousa, Jacob Garchik, Jacob Sacks, Javier Pereiro, Jeffery Davis, Jesse Chandler, Jesus Santandreu, Joana Espadinha, Joana Machado, João Ferreira, João Gomes, João Guimarães, João Hasselberg, João Lencastre, João Lencastre, João Moreira, João Paulo Esteves da Silva, João Pedro Brandão, João Pereira, João Rijo, João Silvestre, Jochen Rueckert, Joel Silva, Johannes Krieger, John Ellis, Jon Irabagon, Jorge Reis, José Carlos Barbosa, José Luís Rêgo, José Maria, José Marrucho, José Miguel Moreira, José Pedro Coelho, José Silva, Julian Argüelles, Kalaf, Lars Arens, Leo Genovese, Loft, Luís Candeias, Luís Cunha, Lukas Frohlich, Manuel Marques, Marco Franco, Marcos Cavaleiro, Margarida Campelo, Mariana Norton, Mário Barreiros, Mário Franco, Mário Laginha, Mário Santos, Marta Hugon, Matt Pavolka, Matt Renzi, Miguel Amado, Miguel Fernandez, Mikado Lab, Nate Radley, Nelson Cascais, Nicola Tricot, Nuno Costa, Nuno Ferreira, Ohad Talmor, Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos, Óscar Marcelino da Graça, Paula Sousa, Paulo Bandeira, Paulo Gaspar, Pedro Gonçalves, Pedro Guedes, Pedro Madaleno, Pedro Moreira, Pedro Pestana, Pete Rende, Phil Grenadier, Raquel Merrelho, Ricardo Formoso, Ricardo Pinheiro, Ricardo Toscano, Rita Maria, Rodrigo Gonçalves, Rogério Ribeiro, Ruben Alves, Rui Pereira, Rui Teixeira, Russ Meissner, Sara Serpa, Septeto Hotclub, Sérgio Pelágio, Simon Jermin, Spill, Susana Santos Silva, Ted Poor, Thomas Morgan, Thomas Morgan, Tiago Maia, TOAP Colectivo, Travis Reuter, Vasco Agostinho, Vicky Marques, Yuri Daniel.
“Portuguese jazz has grown tremendously in the last twenty years. This was mainly due to the emergence of a new generation of musicians with great creativity and restlessness, which led them to experiment various musical paths and universes. There are many complex factors that explain this leap forward. But there are also clear and unequivocal facts, easily validated by everyone, such as the role of an independent label called TOAP, created by a brilliant, nonconformist, enterprising and persistent musician called André Fernandes. A few years from now, thanks to TOAP, it will be possible to talk about this generation and, more importantly, to listen to what they created. For jazz musicians and enthusiasts, this is no small legacy.”