background photo: © Rui Oliveira
From the excellent violist and composer José Valente, “Embalo para Bernardo” is a beautiful moment that becomes decisive for the conclusion of the journey: phylogram percussion, sparse piano playing, powerful viola. A dense sleeping lullaby that Works like a suite, opening into different sections.
António Branco, jazz.pt.
“Serpente Infinita”, from violist (electric and eclectic) José Valente: amazing vanguard work that remembers Ana Hatherly, the great Portuguese modernist poet, calligrapher and visual artist.
Nuno Rogeiro, revista Sábado
Your record is really well conceived and mostly very well played by you. Amazing several times. My sincerest congratulations.
António Pinho Vargas, awarded and renowned Portuguese composer.
The work of the viola goes from typical jazz phrasing to chamber music with space for improvisation, unedifying the boarders between one idiom and the other. In the meantime allusions to world music also appear, and if these seem extemporary, they constitute a humorous side that reliefs the dense wait of this album. Is this kind of distance, this ability of going away from the intrigue that is being constructed, evaluating it from outside, that a message of hope is born, and also transmitted by “The Birds are broken”. Conclusion, here it is a remarkable work from a musician that is being distinguished among us and that deserves the widest recognition.
Rui Eduardo Paes, Jazz.pt
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.
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 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 Valentes’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.
José Valente is also the author several articles, chapters and essays about music within academic context and others. He has written for Routledge, University of Coimbra, University of Aveiro, Revista Via Latina, and more. He writes regularly for Comunidade Cultura e Arte. In the last years he gave several Masterclasses at schools like Conservatório de Música do Porto, Conservatório de Música de Aveiro, Conservatório de Música de Coimbra, SAMP Leiria, Universidade de Coimbra, Universidade de Aveiro, Conservatorio Superior de Musica La Coruña, Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Vigo, Escola Superior de Educação de Coimbra, and many more.
José Valente is the musical director and composer of SIBILA BILINGUE, a project curated by the Museum of Porto, that establishes dialogues with the emigrant communities living in the city, for the creation new poetic musical works.
He is also the composer and live musician of I see red, a theatrical performance by Silvestre Correia, premiered in 2023 at the Manchester School of Theater, with shows at venues like the Edinburgh Horror Festival or at the Teatrul Maghiar de Stat, Timisoara (Romania).
The violist has been recording his next solo album at home to be released in 2024.
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.