Charlie Haden in Portugal

Jason A Schulman wrote:

"In 1971 Charlie Haden would cause an uproar in Lisbon -- still under military rule -- by dedicating a song to black liberation movements in the Portuguese colonies of Mozambique, Angola and Guinea-Bissau..."

Yes, this was quite an event. It was in the Festival de Jazz de Cascais (a balneary town near Lisboa) in 1971.

Lisboa, however, was not under "military rule". Rather the whole country was submitted to an arch-reactionary, ultramontane, but very civilian dictatorship, which some historians now frown at hearing it called fascist. Ironically, it was the growing unrest - taking place at about exactly this time - in the military young officers serving in the colonial wars that was to lead to the uprising of April 25, 1974 (the cloves revolution).

Portugal was something of a western Albania: desperately poor, isolated, ignorant and resigned. The student company in Coimbra wanted to stage "Mother Courage". They needed to asked permission from the University authorities. The rector had never heard of Brecht. "Well, he is a very respected German dramatist, unfortunately already deceased for some time..."

Actually, this episode on the jazz festival was very funny. Cascais is the quintessentially bourgeois residential area and these "musicians" were supposed to be there to entertain. Oppositional feelings on the audience where certainly very mute and temperate. Haden's gesture was like a stone dropped at a swamp, paralysed with stupor and disbelief. I'm not sure he knew exactly where he was. But it was a brave gesture indeed. It won him a ride to the airport the next day.

Joćo Paulo Monteiro