Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos is a non-profit institution that promotes creation, research, spread and training in the jazz field. Created in 1997, it has the support of the Municipality of Matosinhos since 1999 and it crosses international ambition with a sense of local responsibility. Continuously invests in the development of diversified artistic projects, coherent educational projects and in the recording of Portuguese jazz. A pioneer in a largely unexplored territory, OJM plays the role of the National Jazz Orchestra.
On October 5th, 2017, while celebrating its 20th anniversary, OJM was invited to participate in the commemorations 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. It has the artistic direction of Pedro Guedes and was co-directed with Carlos Azevedo until 2021. Collaborated 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, Fay Claassen, Kiko Freitas, Maria Rita, Maria João, Mayra Andrade, Manuela Azevedo, Sérgio Godinho, Manel Cruz, Mário Laginha and Rui Reininho. 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.
In 2014, it started the series “New Jazz Talents”, where OJM invites young musicians to play as soloists in front of the Big Band. In 2019, in its 11th edition, a young Spanish musician was invited for the first time, extending the project to the entire Iberian Peninsula from then on.
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).
2018 marked the beginning of an important national tour project with four concerts (one per year), that takes the traditional repertoire for big band to venues across the country - based on a project co-created with Manuel Jorge Veloso, “A Journey through the Times of Jazz: from the Ballroom to the Concert Hall” -, music written for big band by Portuguese composers and a last phase with new talents of jazz. This national tour has already passed in cities such as Bragança, Vila Real, Ponte de Lima, Caldas da Rainha, Fundão and Setúbal.
OJM's discography reflects some of its strongest collaborations: Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos Invites Chris Cheek (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2006); Portology, with Lee Konitz as composer and lead soloist (Omnitone, 2007); Our Secret World with Kurt Rosenwinkel, released in the US and Portugal (WomMusic, 2010); Amoras e Framboesas with singer Maria João (Universal Music, 2011); Bela Senão Sem with original arrangements on music by pianist João Paulo Esteves da Silva (initially edited by TOAP/OJM, in 2013); Jazz Composers Forum: today’s european-american big band writing, work that resulted from the recording of eight commissions made to eight composers —four Americans and four Europeans—for the cycle of concerts with the same name (TOAP/OJM, 2014); Unsolvable Problems (Improbable Records, 2019) with music by composer Carlos Guedes.
In 2020, OJM rescues its editorial voice creating the label CARA. Jazz in the Space Age is the first album with this stamp — a revisitation of the historic album by George Russell, recorded live at Casa da Música with João Paulo Esteves da Silva and José Diogo Martins as guests, and edited digitally and in video. In 2021 releases a re-edition of Bela Senão Sem with three new solo themes by João Paulo Esteves da Silva and in 2022 the album After Midnight with singer-songwriter Rebecca Martin and bassist Larry Grenadier. The album features six originals (by the singer and one co-written with Larry Grenadier) and five jazz standards with arrangements by Pedro Guedes, Carlos Azevedo and Guillermo Klein. The digital edition of the album also features the poems from the songs read by Rachel Weisz, Gretchen Parlato, Terry Martin and more. In the same year, OJM puts online a website that archives and makes available for listening the complete catalog of TOAP, a publisher that partnered with OJM in 2010, changing its name to TOAP/OJM and was extinct in 2014. In the beginning of 2023, OJM releases umaviagempelostemposdojazz.pt - a journey through the history of big bands curated by Manuel Jorge Veloso and narrated by António Curvelo.
Since 2018, the orchestra has its new home at Real Vinícola in Matosinhos in the studio Centro de Alto Rendimento Artístico (CARA)- a 800 m2 space where dialogue between art, science and technology is promoted, through multidisciplinary projects nurturing investigation and the development of ideas for creation, enjoyment and fruition of creative content. This space hosts concerts, rehearsals, recordings and OJM’s Educational Program.