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The monthly Tea Break is a series of short, fun items in What's New Magazine that also gives jazz musicians an opportunity to update us with what they are doing. Here are the Tea Breaks they (and I) have taken since 2015.


Filipe Freitas and Clara Pereira - November 2017


Clara Pereira


Clara and Filipe run JazzTrail in New York. Clara Pereira is a photographer and takes stunning images of musicians; Filipe is a writer and reports on jazz events and new album releases. They are valued contacts for Sandy Brown Jazz in the United States. Although they look quite serious in these photographs, when I met them I found them friendly, engaging and talented people.

Clara specialises in black and white photography and I regularly feature her images at the top of What's New. As she says on the JazzTrail website: 'At some point in her childhood, she really believed she was an alien. Instead, she became a photographer and graphic designer (with special powers) who couldn’t be more human since her joy comes from earthly things such as coffee, a glass of good red wine, and TV shows'.

Felipe was an electrical engineer in a previous life. He gets extremely happy whenever a bag of tortilla chips is around and his soul rejoices when he plays guitar. Filipe contributes album reviews to Sandy Brown Jazz, giving us an insight into the current American scene. On the JazzTrail website you will find his other album reviews, concert reviews and interviews.


Clara Pereira




Filipe Freitas




Both Filipe and Clara are originally from the Portuguese island of Madeira but moved to New York a few years ago. Although Portuguese is Filipe's natural language, I am often impressed by his written work, although he will apologise for his 'poor English'! They are both very involved in the New York jazz scene and in contact with many American and Portuguese musicians. I am grateful to them both for contributing to Sandy Brown Jazz.

Filipe has just returned from the Angra Jazz Festival in the Azores so it seemed to be an appropriate time to catch them for a Tea Break - although with their being based in America, I guess we should call it a Coffee Break!


Filipe Freitas


Hi Clara and Filipe, tea or coffee?

Definitely coffee! Preferentially espresso, but any type will do.

Milk and sugar?

No, thanks.


Did you enjoy the Angra Jazz Festival in October? It is not a festival that many in the UK will know – where is it located?

AngraJazz was great, a well-organized festival that has been up for 19 years. The line up included attractive names such as Charles Tolliver, Matt Wilson, and Jon Irabagon. It takes place in the beautiful city of Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal - a UNESCO world heritage. (Click here for Filipe's report on the AngraJazz Festival 2017)


You have sent me Clara's picture of Charles Tolliver which I have placed at the end of our Tea Break - superb photograph!. I thought readers might like to see this video of his Big Band playing 'Round Midnight in 2013. The sound of his trumpet really touches me.



You both come from Madeira – New York is quite a change! What are your impressions of the city as a place to live and work now you have been there for a while?

New York is a pretty tough city compared to our hometown. Everything can be a struggle and the cost of living is insane. However, there are many more opportunities for us here in what we really love to do. The constant vibrancy of the city is stimulating. It can be tiresome sometimes, but it keeps you on your toes. If your structure allows, this is a city that will make you grow professionally and personally. Like they say: 'it will make you or break you'.

Smalls Jazz Club


Do you have favourite places to go to for jazz gigs?

We tend to go to smaller venues and there are some we really like - Cornelia Street Cafe, 55 Bar, The Jazz Gallery, Smalls, and The Stone, whose avant-jazz program is quite attractive.

Small's Jazz Club on West 10th Street in New York is a very small club (a basement, actually) located in the Greenwich Village and with a capacity of 60 people. Established in 1993, this venue remains one of the best places to see rising jazz talents performing, despite the loud noise we can hear sometimes. It's usually crowded and there's a bar inside.


Small's Jazz Club interior


Small's Jazz Club



I guess the London basement clubs that makes me think of are the 100 Club and the 606 Club but I think both are larger than Small's. From what you say, Small's seems to have quite an intimate atmosphere. Of course the 100 Club in Oxford Street used to be a key jazz venue but it stages very little jazz now. Ronnie Scott's Club used to be smaller and in 1959 was in a basement in Gerrard Street, but it moved to larger premises in Frith Street, Soho in 1965 where it could increase capacity to an audience of 250. The other basement club that no longer exists here was the Cy Laurie Club in Old Windmill Street opposite the Windmill Theatre. I believe that was the first jazz club to open in London. I guess The Jazz Nursery in London is comparable too as it features rising talent but is located on an old ship, rather than in a basement. I have to say that there is something about basement jazz clubs that seems to 'go with the territory'. I wonder if people reading this in the UK know of similar basement clubs?




Honey cake

Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi or digestive biscuit?

We'll try a bit of each and also bring a moist honey cake, typical of Madeira island, to the table.  

Great! I really like honey cake - I think it is called bolo de mel in Madeira? One of those cakes that gets made at Christmas but fortunately is around all year!






Jon Irabagon



Your photographs are stunning, Clara. What would you say you are trying to capture in a picture?

Thank you! When shooting a performance, I'm trying to freeze a moment of human expression, almost like attempting to capture the emotions and sounds of an improvisation/tune by trapping them in a frame.


I know saxophonist Jon Irabagon is an acquaintance of you both. I think your photograph of him describes what you are saying.


Jon Irabagon






[The Jon Irabagon Quartet - Jon Irabagon (tenor saxophone); Luis Perdomo (piano); Rudy Royston (drums); Yasushi Nakamura (bass) -playing at La Usina del Arte in Buenos Aires in 2016].




If you could ask two past jazz musicians to join us for the tea break, who would you invite?

I would invite John Coltrane since his huge spirituality, in addition to the musical creativity, always have touched me. And Frank Zappa, whose rebelliousness, social and political awareness, and consistently funny ways of saying serious things made me appreciate his music even more.

What would you ask them?

I wouldn't ask anything specific. I would enjoy their company, letting the conversation flow naturally.

Filipe, with all the many albums that are released, how do you choose the releases that you review for JazzTrail?

That is something I have to deal with every day. My choices are based on my personal taste within the styles I envisioned for JazzTrail. I look for modern creative jazz rather than mainstream, but always trying to find a proper balance between acclaimed and emerging artists. I'm happy to spread the word in favour of talented young musicians.

Who else have you heard recently that we should listen out for?

Currently I'm listening to new albums by Rudresh Mahanthappa, Jen Shyu, Wadada Leo Smith, Tom Rainey Obbligato, and also François Bourassa, a Canadian pianist who keeps surprising me at every listening. Yesterday (October 17th), I attended the CD release concert by drummer Jeff 'Siege' Siegel, and the musical spirit of his latest album is something I can identify with. Beyond the jazz genre, I constantly resort to my old pop/rock collection and lots of 80's. It helps me to break my routine while enjoying the music without having to be attentive to the details.


[Here is a video of Prayer from Jeff Siegel's album King Of Xhosa featuring Feya Faku (fluglehorn); Erica Lindsay (tenor saxophone); Francesca Tanksley (piano); Rich Syracuse (bass); Jeff "Siege" Siegel (drums): Fred Berryhill (percussion)].



What are your future plans for JazzTrail?

Keep on working and growing in the hope of making JazzTrail an honest reference in the modern jazz universe. This applies not only to the album/concert reviews but also to the photography and album artwork.

Another biscuit?

Yes, please. Can we have more coffee?!


Charles Tolliver


Click here for Filipe and Clara's JazzTrail website.


Utah Teapot


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Other pages you might find of interest :

More Tea Breaks
Tracks Unwrapped
Full Focus
Jazz Remembered

© Sandy Brown Jazz 2017