background photo: © Nélson D'Aires
Undeniable quality and originality - a work of instrumental excellency that confirms the acute interpretative sense of José Valente.
PRÉMIO CARLOS PAREDES 2019 Award Juri
The award-winning Portuguese composer and musician José Valente has long stood out for the way he has pushed the boundaries of so-called erudite music, bringing his instrument of choice, the viola, (...) "Trégua", a disruptive album, for the way it combines improvisation and contemporaneity with the supposedly more formatted reality of a philharmonic band. Composed of seven acts that wander through “a multiplicity of references” (...).
Miguel Judas, revista Visão.
"Trégua" is melodically a more open album, which does not fail to be deconstructed with jazz elements or classical music tools. José Valente is a non-aligned artist who has discovered an original path for his music.
Miguel Halpern, Jornal de Letras, Artes e Ideias.
Considered one of the most innovative violists of his generation, José Valente continues to develop an intense musical activity defined by the irreverence, contemporaneity and virtuosity of his playing and composing. Since his return from New York, the awarded violist has been exploring the limits of his instrument through the symbiosis of diverse musical styles, rarely associated with the traditional repertoire for viola, establishing consequently a unique musical voice.
It isn’t a surprise that José Valente insists in an eclectic musical point of view throughout his work. After a decade away from his homeland (Portugal), a time in which he worked with several different musicians and styles such as the Acies Streichquartett (founding member), Dave Douglas, Paquito d’Rivera – who invited José to be soloist at the world famous Carnegie Hall – ,Hank Roberts or Don Bryon, he continued to explore the combination of musical genres and artistic disciplines in both international projects: the Human Evolution project with Indian sitar player Shakir Khan and Spanish legendary pianist Alberto Conde; and national projects: Valente Maio duo with violinist Manuel Maio; 6 Violas a Portuguese viola sextet. Or within his research for his PhD in Contemporary Art at the Royal College for the Arts at the University of Coimbra that he finished by unanimous decision with distinction; and the continuing successful attempts to communicate with other art forms, such as painting, architecture, film and literature or poetry, revealed with projects such as PuLso (spoken word); the children’s show Os Figos são para quem passa premiered and commissioned by São Luiz Theater; the commission and premiere of a Sonata for Viola and Empty Cube for the Empty Cube project, curated by João Silvério; or more recently the commission by MAAT – Museum for Art Architecture and Technology to compose a spoken word Opera with lyrics by Gonçalo M. Tavares, for an exhibit curated by Paulo Mendes.
This conviviality of artistic possibilities has also rewarded the musician from Porto with various distinctions and experiences: in 2012 he received The Hannah S. and Samuel A. Cohn Memorial Foundation Endowed Fellowship, after premiering his piece Invasão (Invasion) at the Djerassi Residency Artists Program in California, USA; in 2009 José was awarded with a honorable mention at the Prémio de Composição Lopes Graça for his work Sem Abrigo; in 2010 he was selected to premiere his multidisciplinary piece “A Conversa” at Serralves em Festa; in 2014 he was considered New Talent Fnac; in 2015 he toured Cyprus with the contemporary ballet Unconnected that he created together with choreographer Mafalda Deville and visual artist Israel Pimenta; in 2017 he toured India, doing solo concerts and performing his children’s show The Fabulous Fables conceived together with visual artist and actress Marta Bernardes; in 2018 he composed the obligatory viola piece Passaporte for Antena 2/RTP (Portuguese national TV station) for the 32nd edition of Prémio Jovens Músicos Competition; and numerous concerts in festivals and worldwide venues as well: Festival Imaxinasons (Spain), Festival Tremor, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Teatro Maria Matos, Fundação Serralves, Bookaroo Festival (Dehli, India), Union Square Park (New York), Dizzy’s Club at Lincoln Center (New York), Suoni Mobile Festival (Italy), Festival Bons Sons, Jazz no Parque Festival, International Jazz Encounters of Coimbra Dance House Nicosia (Cyprus), Rauf R. Denktas Cultur and Congress Center in Famagusta (Cyprus), Festival IKFEM, Casa da Música, Festival Indiejunior, Museo Vostell Malapartida (Spain), among others.
His first album Os Pássaros estão estragados is considered one of the 75 essential made in Portugal jazz records by critic Rui Eduardo Paes.
His second album Serpente Infinita, received 5/5 starts by Jazz.pt magazine, and was integrated in the 2018’s best album list of the same publication, as well as in the best album lists of several critics. José Valente was awarded with the Prémio Carlos Paredes 2019 for his album Serpente Infinita.
In 2021 José has premiered Trégua, the first ever album for viola and marching band. Trégua won the GDA’s funding for phonographic edition and the DGArtes funding for new creations and was an Antena 2 album. It received excellent critics by the main Portuguese publications.
His most recent album Águas paradas não movem moinhos, for his new viola sextet 6 Violas, is an homage to José Mário Branco, composed by José’s arrangements of several songs of the important songwriter. After receiving excellent feedback from numerous music and cultural Portuguese publications, 6 Violas continues to tour with this album, having recently a full house concert at Centro Cultural de Belém, in Lisbon.
In conclusion, José Valente proposes in his concerts and with his pieces an option where his instrument, the viola, is the center of the creative opportunity, defying the boundaries between style/audience/stage that have been perpetuated throughout the history of music.
Since 2001 that José Valente plays with beautiful Alceste Bulfari's viola, and since 2021 also with a Mezzoforte hybrid black viola. By suggestions of his mother, he calls them (it) "Presença" and "Diamante" respectively.