(Sadly, only 5 months after writing this review we have learnt that the Albatroz Jazz & Blues Bar has closed down, but we will continue to watch the career of Carlos Cepinha with interest.)
The newest edition to Carvoeiro’s growing list of places to hear live music is Albatroz on Estrada do Farol. Located behind the Casa Algarvia restaurant, it is a small, intimate bar that specializes in live jazz and blues music, and unlike the other bars in Carvoeiro, where the music acts as a background to drinking, dining and talking, in Albatroz the music takes centre stage and, for this reason I suspect, there is an entrance fee.
We went to Albatroz on 30 September 2016, responding to a sign outside the bar advertising a ‘Live Jazz Concert’ starting at 9.30pm. On entering the nearly empty room we had a choice of several comfortable sofas arranged around a comparatively large stage. Unfortunately some of the sofas had pillars in front of them blocking the view of the stage, but on this quiet night we were able to find one with a full view of the musicians on the stage. We ordered a bottle of wine and settled down to watch the Carlos Cepinha Trio. Carlos Cepinha, on jazz guitar, introduced the band, saying that they had recently formed (that explained the very long pauses between each song as they discussed what to play next). Their repertoire comprised of jazz standards, such as ‘Quiet Nights’, ‘Autumn Leaves’, ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ and an original arrangement of ‘Happy Birthday’, but with enough improvisation to keep jazz aficionados happy. Cepinha played the guitar in a style reminiscent of Pat Metheny and he was ably backed up by Tiago Alves on drums and Hugo Santos on bass. After a short break the band was joined on stage by an unintroduced guest trumpeter, who added a Chet Baker-style sound with his trumpet solos and worked well with a band he had clearly not worked with before. An unexpected surprise during the break and also after the band finished playing at 12.30 was when the young, friendly doorman/waiter sat down at the piano on the stage and began competently playing a series of classical pieces. It was unexpected and, if the truth be told, slightly incongruous.
Despite the very small audience, which was mainly comprised of Carlos Cepinha’s friends and family and a couple of men at the bar having a loud conversation, the band played enthusiastically. We witnessed several groups of people walking into the bar, but leaving as soon as they were informed about the entrance fee. The management may have to reconsider this if they are to encourage people in. However, I was very happy to see a venue in Carvoeiro dedicated to this type of music and which puts the music at the forefront. I will be interested to see whether it can attract more people as its reputation spreads.