The Brazilian drummer Mariá Portugal and the Polish alto saxophonist Angelika Niescier first met in September 2019, during the CHIII Festival (former Imprô Festival) in São Paulo. Since then, the duo have been performing throughout Germany, where both musicians live. Their performances are always based in free improvisation and always surprising, energetic and dynamic.
Niescier is one of the exceptional musicians who has for some time been redefining the contours of the European jazz scene – an artist on a mission, with boundless energy, a rich pallet of color and virtuoso technique. She resides in Cologne, Germany where she studied at the Folkwanghochschule Essen.
The bandleader and composer earned some of the most prestigious awards, e.g. the German Jazz Award (Albert-Mangelsdorff-Preis), Echo Jazz, numerous times Vierteljahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik and was artist in residence in Moers (D), Kuala Lumpur (MY) and Tarabya (TR).
Mariá is since 2021 the curator of Soundtrips for the city of Duisburg. Soundtrips NRW is a project that seeks to connect improvisers and venues throughout the region of Nordrein-Westfalia.
If improvised music in its beginnings set out to explore the most diverse musical genres, it has since produced its own variety of personal styles and the most diverse ways of playing. Soundtrips wants to present this diversity and contribute to its further development through musical encounters. Thanks to its long-standing presence in Nordrhein-Westfalen, the Soundtrips have become an internationally respected forum for high-quality concerts.
Encourage musical production through partnerships and offer new possibilities for dissemination and distribution of music to young talents who frequent cultural spaces on the outskirts of São Paulo. These are some of the goals of Atalhos Sonoros, an unprecedented initiative by Fábricas de Cultura in partnership with Tratore, the largest distributor of independent music in Brazil.
Mariá was invited to be the tutor of two groups of artists from Capão Redondo. The neighbourhood of Capão Redondo has been a paradigmatic pole of Brazilian hip-hop production since the 80's.They produced two tracks together: one with the singer Thalia Abdon, other with the pair of rappers Eduardo Duetho and ÚltimoHarriVivo:
OTHER LIMITS, music for three instruments and electronica, is a soundtrack composed by Mariá Portugal for the classic silent film LIMITE (1931), by Mario Peixoto. The piece was premiered at MIS-SP (São Paulo Museum of Image and Sound) in 2017.
Mario Peixoto used to say that LIMITE was about the illusory character of time. Through image, he wanted to prove time does not exist. On the other hand, but not by chance, the film explores human limitations in relation to time - which inexorably passes - and to nature - which remains, relentless.
In OTHER LIMITS, Mariá seeks to bring Mario's thoughts about time and limits to musical composition and improvisation. From this premise, she seeks to build a musical narrative in counterpoint to the original classic soundtrack, using both electronic music, song composition and mainly improvised music.
In a predominantly open manner, the music is performed by the composer herself (drums, electronics, voice) and by two other invited improvisers with different melodic or harmonic instruments. The soundtrack explores the limits (as borders or zone of contact) between electronic and acoustic, composed and improvised music.
Video: Filipe Franco and José TM @ MIS-SP, 2017
A web radio program curated by Mariá and Jamille Pinheiro Dias, literature researcher and translator. Livrofonia puts together conversations about sound, listening, and music within the realm of literature. An initiative linked to Sense and Sound project at Stanford University (California, USA) and Grupo de Estudos da Escuta (CNPQ), LIVROFONIA invites authors, musicians, actors and researchers to speak about sound and literary writing.
Brazilian drummer Portugal (1984) and Dutch alto saxophonist Van Kemenade (1957) met each other for the very first time on stage in Italy at the Roccella Jonica Jazzfestival 2016, where they performed in duo a completely improvised concert.
It was an overwhelming experience and Van Kemenade asked Portugal over to the Netherlands to record a CD in duo and also in trio with Dutch pianist-keyboard-player Jasper van ’t Hof. Together they recorded the cd ‘Daytime Sketches’ which was released on May 2017.