Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos was formed in 1997 and has the support of the Municipality of Matosinhos since 1999. It’s an active promoter of new music, including its creation and spread, while also supporting jazz investigation and education. It manages to merge an international ambition with the awareness of its local responsibility.
In 5 October 2017, while celebrating its 20 years, OJM was invited to participate in the ceremonies of the 107th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Portuguese Republic, at the São Bento Palace in Lisbon. The Portuguese Prime-Minister and the Portuguese Culture Minister honoured the orchestra with the Medal for Cultural Merit.
The uniqueness of OJM is revealed in the versatility that allows it to play the role of a national jazz orchestra while performing repertoires of all aesthetic variants and ages of jazz. Conducted by Pedro Guedes and Carlos Azevedo, it has worked with Maria Schneider, Carla Bley, Lee Konitz, John Hollenbeck, Jim McNeely, Kurt Rosenwinkel, João Paulo Esteves da Silva, Carlos Bica, Ingrid Jensen, Bob Berg, Conrad Herwig, Mark Turner, Rich Perry, Steve Swallow, Gary Valente, Dieter Glawischnig, Stephan Ashbury, Chris Cheek, Ohad Talmor, Joshua Redman, Andy Sheppard, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Fred Hersch, Rebecca Martin, Peter Evans, Maria Rita, Maria João, Mayra Andrade, Manuela Azevedo, Sérgio Godinho and Manel Cruz. It has also shared the stage with Remix Ensemble, Casa da Música/Porto Symphony Orchestra and Matosinhos String Quartet. Every year since 2007, OJM performs two new projects with special guests at Casa da Música.
OJM has performed regularly at major halls in Portugal and tours regularly in several European and American cities, including Barcelona (it was a resident orchestra at Voll-Damm International Jazz for four years), Belgrade, Brussels, Marseille, Vienna (Konzerthaus with Kurt Rosenwinkel), Milan, Boston (Beantown Jazz Festival) and New York. In the Big Apple it made appearances at clubs such as Birdland, Jazz Standard, Jazz Gallery, Iridium and Blue Note, and it was the first Portuguese Jazz band to participate in an American festival (JVC Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, in 2007).
The OJM discography reflects some of its strongest collaborations: Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos Invites: Chris Cheek (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2006); Portology, with Lee Konitz as the main composer and soloist (Omnitone, 2007); Our Secret World with Kurt Rosenwinkel, released in the U.S. and Portugal (WomMusic, 2010); Amoras e Framboesas with singer Maria João (Universal Music, 2011); Bela Senão Sem with original arrangements on music by the pianist João Paulo Esteves da Silva (TOAP, 2013); and Jazz Composers Forum: today’s european-american big band writing, from a homonymous concert series featuring eight commissions from eight American and European composers (TOAP, 2014).
Since 2018, OJM is based at the CARA – High Performance Centre for the Arts, in Matosinhos. Lauched by the orchestra, this project promotes dialogues between art, science and technology, nurturing the investigation and development of ideas for the conception, fruition and spread of creative contents. CARA was inaugurated in September 2018 and it welcomes concerts, rehearsals, recordings and the community activities of OJM.