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A kaleidoscope of contemporary Czech jazz.

Czech jazz has been reborn as a truly contemporary phenomenon since the start of the 1990s, as a result of the velvet revolution which at last gave Czech and Slovak jazzmen free and direct access to the international music scene and its life. Global study possibilities opened up, and of course, many of those who flew over the Atlantic headed for Boston, to study at the famous Berklee College of Music, or to New York for practical experience in the clubs. While in the preceding four decades contact with foreign jazz had for most of the population been restricted to listening to foreign radio stations and the narrow selection of jazz records published on license by the monopoly state music concerns in Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Poland, suddenly the gates were open to the gates were open to the whole range of world production. All this undoubtedly influenced the generation entering music schools in the 1990s.

The Jaroslav Jezek Conservatory attached to the Higher Vocational School in Prague has become the most specialist Czech jazz school; the top jazzmen of preceding years started to teach there, as soon did many of their pupils. Because these teachers: are still active musicians today, usually with an international reputation at least in Europe, let us start this kaleidoscope of the contemporary Czech jazz scene by looking at the most prominent on the 'Conservatory staff. The two leading figures at the Conservatory are the double bassist, composer and bandleader Jaromir Honzak and the pianist, composer, orchestral arranger and bigband leader Milan Svoboda. Here we should note that the school also became a magnet for young musicians from neighbouring Slovakia, many of whom have stayed on as active members of the Czech scene and have made a striking contribution to the quality of Czech jazz today.

The Bigband tradition of Succeeding Generations

The how fifty-eight-year-old Milan Svoboda was a major force in the emergence of a new generation in the mid-1970s. He won a great name for himself in Czech jazz history by founding the big orchestra of his generation, the Prague Big Band, which is still fully functional. Of course, over more than thirty years of existence it has undergone several major changes, but it has always been a place where experienced jazzmen and coming talents meet. Thanks to its bandmaster and arranger, the Prague Big Band has a highly distinctive sound: a synthesis of the music of modern orchestras of the 1970s of the Thad Jones and Mel Lewis type with the influences of jazz-rock fusion, as Gil Evans represented them in orchestral form in the 1980s. Svoboda's most striking pieces in fact include Hommage to G.E. - he personally met Evans: in 1984 during his brief studies in the USA. Today the repertoire consists mainly of compositions by Milan Svoboda, which in the course of the years have become music with an original stamp. Like every big band without a permanent institutional umbrella, Svoboda's orchestra does not perform on a regular basis. At a concert at the Prague La Fabrika venue in November last year the outstanding American tenor Saxophonist and sax teacher Jerry Bergonzi guested with the Prague Big Band in a programme of his own numbers. The Prague Big Band appears at festivals throughout Europe. A good representative album of the band's work in current form is the CD Good News released in 2008 on the Czech-English label Cube-Metier. It is also worth hearing Milan Svoboda's other ensembles: in the clubs he plays most often with his own quartet or in a duo with the trumpet and bugle player Michal Gera. Indeed, Miehal Gera is Milan Svoboda's most frequent and long-standing colleague; he is today among the legends of Czech trumpet and for many years has led his own Gera Band.


1988 saw the birth, under the supervision of Milan Svoboda, of another generational orchestral project: the pupils of a jazz workshop in Frydlant formed the Kontraband which still appears on an occasional basis to this day. In recent years the jazz community has been impressed with the performances of Svoboda's latest project, once again founded as a school band - the Prague Conservatory Jazz Orchestra & Milan Svoboda. Since its formation in 2005 it has gone from strength to strength - as demonstrated by its unique appearances at the prestigious Czech international festival Jazz Goes To Town in the Easts Bohemian metropolis of Hradec Kralove last October. It gave one concert of pieces by Milan Svoboda, and a second of the concerto for clarinet, trumpet and orchestra by the outstanding European jazzman, saxophonist and clarinettist Gianluigi Trovesi. The solo clarinet part was played by Trovesi himself, and the solo trumpet by Michal Gera. The students in this orchestra are today among the most promising members of the youngest generation of Czech jazz. Many of the soloists already lead their own bands and have already made surprisingly good and musically interesting debut recordings. The most striking talents among the conservatory orchestra soloists include for example the trumpet player Miroslav Hloucal, the trombonist Jan Jirucha, the tenor saxophonists Michal Wroblewski and Jakub Dolezal and the drummer Martin Linhart. In 2007 the Prague Conservatory Orchestra conducted by Milan Svoboda defended its excellent reputation as a finalist in the student orchestras' Next Generation Festival in Monterey, USA.

The head of the jazz department at the Jaroslav Jezek Conservatory (the section was set up as late as 2003), is the double bass player, composer and band master Jaromir Honzak. He is one of the handful of musicians representing the generation of the 1980s, a decade when jazz was crippled by the ban on the? weeklong Prague Jazz Days festivals and on the activities of the Jazz Section of the Musicians Union, which had been festival organiser. The communist regime was angry that this enthusiasts' organisation refused any kind of ideological supervision of its activities. Jaromir Honzak, alongside several musicians who had played with him since the start of his career, for example the saxophonist Frantisek Kop, the drummer Martin Sulc, or (from a different group in the same generation), the saxophonist Stepan Markovic or the guitarist Jaroslav Sindler, worked their way through to become the top representatives of Czech jazz among those now in their fifties. In the second half of the 1990s Jaromir Honzak was the first to decide to create a band with foreign musicians. His involvement with the Polish jazz scene, which was a great inspiration for the-Czech scene in terms of quality and originality from the 1960s, brought the saxophonist Piotr Baron, the pianist Michal Tokaj and the drummer Lukasz Zyto into his band. For his most recent recording LITTLE THINGS (Animal Music, 2009), Honzak engaged the American saxophonist Chris Cheek, who was then replaced by the excellent Marcel Barta. The guitarist David Doruzka regularly collaborates with Honzak. Barta and Domzka are now the most prominent jazzmen among the Czech generation now in their thirties. Jaromir Honzak is a major figure not just as a band leader, but as a composer and teacher. His albums regularly get the top rating in Czech specialist surveys. His starting point is the legacy of modern jazz enriched with the experience of the avant-garde, and he is not afraid of experimenting. On his recent albums he has always included one track on the borders of contemporary classical music - one might say in the spirit of a third current, with a classic string quartet involved in the performance. In 2002 the drummer Martin Sulc got together with the saxophonist Osian Roberts from Wales to form a Czech-American big band. When the leadership of this band later came to include a legendary name in Czech modern jazz, the trombonist Svatopluk Kosvanec, George Mraz became its double bass player. At a spring concert last year at Prague Castle, musicians performing in the orchestra included other prominent personalities in young Czech jazz - the saxophonists Radek Zapadlo and Rostislav Fras, the trombonist Premysl Tomsxcek and the trumpet player Miroslav Hloucal. Reflecting the leadership, the ensemble is how officially known as the Svatopluk Kosvanec & Osian Roberts/Martin Sulc Orchestra.

The orchestra consists of musicians from several generations, with the veterans of modern jazz here being Kosvanec himself and the American pianist Hod O'Brien, both born in 1936.


After the fall of the iron curtain and arrival of a new generation at the turn of the century, hopes that Czech jazz, would develop more interesting features and a new sound, at least in Central European context, proved well founded. On the one hand the talents of the 1990s were maturing musically and personally, and on the other the youngest generation of musicians, who had started on their musical careers with the excellent education denied to their elders; the whole jazz world of information, experience and study chances had been open to them In album debuts of 2000 a whole series of names appeared that are today established and fine representatives of domestic jazz. The other players in double-bassist Robert Balzar's Trio are Stanislav Macha on piano and drummer Jiri Slavicek, and in 2000 they recorded an excellent first two-disc set Along, which showed that they have already mastered modern mainstream, in which they play both standards and their own compositions, with sovereign, natural ease. This trio is one of the most stable ensembles in Czech jazz and its last opus is the CD Tales (2008) with guest guitarist John Abercrombie. Balzar's trio also shared conspicuously in a series of albums recorded by singer Dan Barta, whom they backed on tours for many years. Together they drew a lot of interest with the very first Barta album, entitled Illustratosphere (Sonny Music, 2000). Dan Barta is a singer with a very distinctive voice and performance style; he mainly sings his own compositions, but also standards in clubs. Although his voice is neither the rich swing kind not the expressive soul kind, with his introverted, unaggressive jazz singer-songwriter talent and his vocal improvisation he manages to move even people who don't understand the language that he writes his texts in. Another proof that a generation enchanted with the possibilities suggested by electric Miles Davis is now being followed by younger musicians capable of looking right back to the beginnings of modern is the pianist Jan Knop. He appears under the pseudonym NajPonk, and is a brilliant interpreter of standards, whether ballads, blues of jazz revue numbers.


In the early 1990s, Stanislav Macha started out in the same young talented circle as another of the most dynamic musicians in contemporary Czech jazz - the guitarist and composer David Doruzka. If his surname is somehow familiar to older jazz enthusiasts, this is because in the second half of the 20th century his grandfather Lubomir Doruzka was an active organiser of jazz life not only in this country but in the whole of Europe. He organised the International Prague Jazz Festival, and was a correspondent of jazz periodicals all over the world. At one time he was the secretary of the International Jazz Federation, and for part of the 1980s even president of that organisation. His grandson obviously took a lot of notice of what his grandad listened to, because unlike most of his contemporaries he never went through a rock phase, but on the contrary even at the tender age of fifteen could play jazz standards in individual style. His debut recording, made while he was still studying in New York in 2003, and with the accompaniment of his fellow students Massimo Biolcati on double bass and Kendrick Scott on drums, became the jazz record of the year. After his return, Czech musicians replaced his classmates from New York when he played in the clubs, and the double bassist Jaromir Honzak in particular became a regular collaborator. Others who have been constant partners include the Polish bass player Michal Baranski and drummer Lukasz Zyto, and the Swedish singer Josefine Lindstrand (CD Silently Dawning dedicated to the poet Emily Dickinson). Yon will also, of course, find Doruzka on Jaromir Honzak's albun A Question To All your Answers, on last year's Little Things, or on this year's new CD Invisible World by the bass, player Tomas Liska's trio with the Italian band one on player Daniel Di Bonaventura. Another nest of talents to emerge during the Noughties has-been the Vertigo Quintet. This is a line-up of the saxophonist and bass clarinettist Marcel Barta, the pianist Vojtech Prochazka, the trumpet player Oskar Torok, the bass player Rastislav Uhrik and the drummer Daniel Soltys. The first three mentioned are today at the absolute zenith of contemporary domestic jazz, and are heavily in demand as soloists for other groups. Since 2005 Vertigo has given us three albums, showing from the very first debut CD named after the band itself that the spirit of the jazz avant-garde has already found its heirs. Barta and Torok in particular, perform today in a whole range of groups/combinations that are exploring the experimental jazz field in all kinds of different ways. The protagonists of the youngest generation, organist Ondrej Pivec and guitarist Libor Smoldas, have meanwhile been active in an entirely opposite movement. Both play in the Pivec Trio, which is inspired by the hard bop and soul jazz of the 1960s, the sound of the Hammond organ and guitar. Pivec moved from piano to organ when he was with the excellent guitarist Roman Pokorny, in whose jazz and blues band he started his career. With Smoldas, Pivec also tried out what it was like to play in clubs in the USA. While in the States the two eventually recorded albums with musicians there, and these came out on the Czech label Animal Music: Pivec with guitarist Jake Langley and saxophonist Joel Frahm and Czech drummer Tomas Hobzek recorded Overseason (2008) and Smoldas with the Czech-American George Mraz, pianist Sam Yahel, drummer Jeff Ballard and singer Zeuritia recorded In New York On Time (2010). Smoldas's album is mainly devoted to themes from the musical My Fair Lady by composer Frederick Loew. Zeuritia, Smoldas's wife, who specialises mainly in music from Portuguese-speaking countries in South America, had earlier made her own recording debut published under her own name (2008). Another debut with an international line-up is that of the pianist and composer Beata Hlavenkova Joy For Joel (2009). She recorded this in a New Jersey studio with Rich Perry, Dave Hasley, Matt Clohesy, Jon Wikan, and most notably the trumpet player, Ingrid Jensen, whose contribution accented the success of the whole album.


The name Miroslav Hloucal has already been mentioned in the context of the Prague Jazz Conservatory Orchestra. He is the most sought-after trumpet and bugle player of the youngest generation and we find him in many groups, including his main ensemble - Infinite Quintet founded with the saxophonist Petr Kalfus. Their debut is entitled Speak Slowly, with Viliam Beres accompanying on piano, Petr Dvorsky on bass and the drummer Martin Novak. Another ensemble founded by Hloucal, this time with saxophonist Lubos Soukup, is the Points quartet. In this group we once again meet the drummer Hobzek and bass player Liska. After recent successes at festivals in Belgium, Poland and Getxo in Spain, where the organisers published a live recording, they are preparing to christen their home debut album. We also find Hloucal among the soloists of trombonist Jan J. Jirucha's group Bucinatores, which is an experimentally orientated wind band. It plays in several different instrumental line-ups, in one of them being accompanied by the Ondrej Pivec organ trio. Aspiring young Czech jazzmen are not, however, just heading for Boston; the brilliant Karol, Szymanowski Music Academy in Krakow is a lot closer. This was where the trumpet player Stepanka Balzarova's Inner Space ensemble was-formed - a Czech-Polish group With Lubos Soukup, Vit Kristan, Michal Kapczuk and Sebestian Kuchczynski. Czech jazz can boast talents not just in performance, but in composition too. One example is the pianist Tomas Sykora with the Nedoba quintet, in which the youngest generation is reinforced by the trumpet of Michal Gera (CD Songs About ..., 2009). Its most original project has the absurd title, wrgha POWU Orchestra. The foundation of the sound is provided by a classical string quartet, and the rhythm section by piano, guitar, double bass and percussion, while other tasks are fulfilled by the flute, clarinet and accordion. In this ensemble' jazz we find an often dadaist fusion of various different genres, including references to very old or street musical genres. A fondness for experimentation with free improvisation and electric sound is also characteristic of the new orientation of saxophonist and bass clarinettist Pavel Hruby's group Limbo (CD Out Of Body, 2009), involving guitarist Jiri Simek and keyboard player Michal Nejtek.


Cold War Veterans

Not just the modern swing generation of the 1940s and 50s but also many of the pioneers of Czech modern jazz are long gone, playing in the great heavenly big band. The leading figures in these movements suffered as a result of the ideologically distorted policies of the monopoly state publishing houses, and consequently their careers are mostly insufficiently mapped by recordings. Many of them were never to make their own albums, and others only managed to do so after 1989. One of the latter who is still happily with us is the trombonist Svatopluk Kosvanec, today still in excellent form, a great partner in brass sections and so invited to take part in all kinds of formations of Gzech and European jazz. Guitarist Rudolf Dasek and saxophonist and flautist Jiri Stivin became famous as a free jazz duo in the 1960s; Today we can find Stivin playing on podiums throughout Europe. After many years of collaboration with the German guitarist Toto Blank, Dasek made no public appearances for a long time as a result of serious illness, but currently he is making studio recordings in a duo with the bass player Georg Mraz. In the course of his career Jiri Stivin has demonstrated the huge range of his talent from jazz to contemporary classical music as well as back to historical music, the Baroque and the Renaissance. In jazz he plays mainly with a quartet that has for many years included the guitarist Jaroslav Sindler. (CD Jiri Stivin & Co. Jazz System: Jazz na Hrade Jazz at the Castle, 2009, with guest vibraphonist Wolfgang Lackerschmid). Another long-term partner of Stivin's is the German bassist Ali Haurandem, with whom he plays in a duo (CD The Two of Us: Just More, 2008) or a trio with the French drummer Daniel Humaire (CD Live in Hradec Kralove, 2008).


Performers who contributed to forming Czech jazz especially in the 1970s and who are still productive today include for example Josef Vejvoda, whose trio boasts the deeply thoughtful pianist Krystof Marek. Another is the one-time winner of composing competitions in Monaco, one of the most important pianists in Czech jazz history, and teacher, Karel Ruzicka. Among protagonists of the jazz-rock era, when the electric guitar entered jazz, we still encounter Lubos Andrst or Zdenek Fiser. This is a generation group that includes their former bandmaster, the keyboards player Martin Kratochvil, whose Jazz Q recently reappeared on the scene - otherwise Kratochvil today plays mainly in a duo with the American guitarist Tonny Ackerman. Or the pianist and composer Emil Viklicky, today still one of the most active of our jazzmen. For years he has been appearing in European and American clubs, or in a trio with the bassist Frantisek Uhlir and drummer Lace Tropp, while he also creates film, theatre and opera music as well as experimental jazz on the boundary with contemporary classical, and does free improvisation - here it is worth mentioning his collaboration with the Finnish trumpet player Jarmo Sermila. His range extends from bop to free jazz, and he is also influenced by the ethnic music of his native region - Moravia, and its modern classic Leos Janacek. It was to this theme that he returned in his most recent recording, Sinfonietta - The Janacek of Jazz, on which Viklicky is accompanied by George Mraz on double bass and Lewis Nash on percussion (released by the Japanese label Venus).

During the communist period whole generations of musicians grew up who focused on forms of traditional jazz, the music of New Orelans, dixieland, and early swing. The tradition of these bands goes back to the end of the 1940s, a time when communist cultural ideology came down hard on jazz because of its American origin and cosmopolitan form. When the first green shoots of the jazz modern appeared in Czechoslovakia, however, the ideologues turned their open hatred on them, relieving the pressure on traditional jazz, which then enjoyed a boom. This genre still has its veteran today: the internationally respected Jazz Studio of clarinetist Pavel Smetacek last year celebrated its half century of existence. Over the years the group has moved from copying American models of old jazz to its own synthetic work, in which it weaves the style and performance experience of later developments from the field of swing and early bebop into traditional jazz.

In the totalitarian decades 1948-89, Czech jazzmen did good work in very difficult conditions and managed to preserve the continuity of jazz development in this country. Today it is proving possible to progressively publish recordings made long ago - usually in the studios of Czechoslovak State Radio, television, and sometimes abroad. In the Fonogram Czech Radio series we are now getting a representative mapping of the swing period of the 1920s-1940s including the years of occupation by Hitler's Reich. Thus for those who remember the period, their nostalgic memories of the music with which they grew up can finally come to life on accessible recordings, while the young can appreciate that despite all the problems in Czechoslovakia, and although on the margins of public interest, jazz lived and reflected events in the world, even if the Iron Curtain mean that it could not reflect jazz evolution in its full diversity. Much of the debt to earlier Czech jazzmen remains to be paid, however, since the majority of the titles of the then state publishing houses Supraphon, Panton, and Opus in Slovakia, have not yet been converted onto CD format even after twenty years.

Political emigration from communist Czechoslovakia took place in several waves starting in 1948 and Czech, jazzmen were part of it. From the point of view of importance for the world jazz scene we should mention two names first and foremost - and by coincidence both are double bass players. Although they were both of the same generation, in music they represent completely different conceptions. Both have been among the top players on the bass scene since the 1970s. Jiri Mraz, known in the world as George Mraz, born in 1944, is a virtuoso player of mainstream character, with a very precise feeling for rhythm, and ingenious melodies and harmonies. The great stars of American music from Oscar Peterson or Tommy Flanagan, to John Abercrombie, John Scofield or Joe Lovan engaged him in their various ensembles. The second world-famous Czech jazz bass player is Miroslav Vitous, three years younger, who is a co-founder of the legendary jazz-rock synthesis band, Weather Report, and for a brief period was also bass for electric Miles Davis. These two great Czech bassists, however, have very different degrees of involvement in the Czech scene today.

George Mraz appeared in the Czech Republic only after the Velvet Revolution in 1989, because if had returned to communist Czechoslovak from exile he would have risked both a ban on return to the USA and criminal prosecution for leaving the republic without permission - something that was criminalised by the laws of the countries of the Soviet bloc. Since the time he was free to come back, however, he has been constantly collaborating with the Czech scene, not just in the domestic context, but on an international basis. As early as 1993, Arta Records, which post-1989 was with P&J Music among the first private purely jazz labels, released his album Going Home on which he was joined by the pianist Karel Ruzicka, the trumpet player Juraj Bartos and the drummer Martin Sulc. In the first decade of the new century he made another two internationally well received albums with Czech musicians. First the American album Morava, on which Mraz and the drummer Billy Harta were joined by the pianist Emil Viklicky and the dulcimer player and singer Zuzana Lapcikova - a CD given a four-star rating in; 2001 in the magazine DownBeat. Then, six years later, the album Moravian Gems, which, was recorded in Prague with Mraz accompanied by Czech musicians - once again Emil Viklicky, the drummer Laco Tropp and the star of the alternative music scene Iva Bittova on violin and vocals. Both warmly received albums have a common feature: they connect up idioms of jazz and Moravian folk music in passages where the musicians sensitively identify common musical elements. Miroslav Vitous returned to the Czech podium at the end of 1988 with a solo concert. Today he plays in the Czech Republic only rarely. In 2006, for example, he performed in Prague in a duo with John Abercrombie. In recent years his ever excellent play, in which extraordinary technical bravura is married with immense musical experience and a knowledge of European classical music, has been represented by albums released by the Munich ECM, for example Universal Syncopations, Remembering Weather Reports, but also by others as well - for example the quartet with Knut Rosslere and Johannes Vogt entitled Between the Times, or Takes on Pasolini in a trio with Antonio Farao and Daniel Humaire. Vitous's virtuosity is no empty exhibitionism, but is charged with scintillating musicianship. George Mraz and Miroslav Vitous belong to a long line of remarkable Czech double-bass personalities that goes back to one of the fathers of Czech modern jazz, Ludek Hulan. This tradition has continued through the generations to this day. Among emigrants, it includes for example Jan Arnet, who worked in the USA from 1966 until serious illness forced him to retire, or Vincenc Kummer, who partnered guitarist Dasek through the 1970s, and who since the Velvet Revolution has been appearing at jam sessions with the young generation in his native city of Brno. It has also been carried on by bassists of various generations in contemporary ensembles, such as Frantisek Uhlir, Jaromir Honzak, Robert Balzar, Vit Svec, Petr Dvorsky and a whole constellation of successors.

From the 1990s, the trumpet player Laco Deczi, who emigrated in the 1980s with his son the drummer Vajco Deczi, has been making regular tours in the Czech Republic with an American ensemble to whom he has given the name of his famous band of the 1970s, Celula: all he has done is add the name of its hew home - Celula New York. He regularly records in New York and his former homeland; his music is characterised by synthesis of the style of his instrumental model Clifford Browna with electric fusion and Latin American rhythms, all spiced with his musical and human humour. A good idea of his play, which has An animal energy that has earned him popularity with more than just the purely jazz public, can be gained for example from his album Big Shot (2008). One of the emigrant musicians who now divides his time and activities between Florida and the Czech Republic is the baritone sax player, flautist, composer and arranger Jan Konopasek. He was born in 1931, was one of the founders of Czech; modern jazz and left the republic in 1965. After a few years in West Germany, where he played with numerous American ensembles including those of Stan Kenton, Oliver Nelson and Carmel Jones, he moved to the USA at the beginning of the 1970s. The most famous chapter of his career was his time in Woody Herman's orchestra. Today he occasionally appears in the clubs here with Czech musicians. In 1994 Jan Konopasek released a single album under his name entitled What Happened at the Picture Gallery putting together recordings from1991-94 made by Big Band Radio Praha and Jazz Orchestra Radio Ostrava, in which he performed as soloists, band master and arranger.

Since 1990 the guitarist Rudy Linka, born in 1961, has been actively involved on the Czech scene. After music studies in Stockholm and then in Boston, he settled in New York in 1986. He regularly appears in the Czech Republic with his own ensembles, and records most of his albums in New York. His teachers were Jim Hall, John Abercrombie and John Scofield, and he now lectures and teaches in Boston himself. In 2005 he founded, and is the president of, the biggest Czech open air festival, known as Bohemia Jazz Fest. Here he invites stars of American and European jazz, as well as the best Czech experienced or rising, talented bands. A distinctive feature of the festival is that it is free, and that it moves through one week to three places in the Czech Republic. It opens in Prague on the historic Old Town Square and continues in the South Bohemian metropolis of Ceske Budejovice and in Prachatice, where Linka has his Czech home. His most highly rated album is the Czech It Out! (1994), on which he plays his compositions with Georg Mraz and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith. On his albums we meet John Abercrombie, Mike Fortmanek, Gil Goldstein and many other interesting musicians. He has recorded a few albums under Czech labels, for example the excellent Mostly Standards (Arta Records, 1993) or a joint quartet with the trumpet player Miles Evans, recorded live at a concert at the Prague Castle and released under the title Rudy Linka &Miles Evans Quartet (Multisonic, 2004).

The most recent returnee to the domestic scene is the tenor saxophonist and baritone saxophonist Jaroslav Jakubovic. In the later seventies he and Svatopluk Kosvanec were the driving forces behind the success of Jazz Combo Usti, which won a series of awards on the domestic and European jazz scene. Two weeks after the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia he emigrated to Israel. Since then Jakubovichas lived between homes and engagements in Israel and the USA, where for example he played in Buddy Rich's and Lionel Hampton's orchestras. In 1978 a DownBeat survey put him in third place among the world's baritone saxophonists, just behind Gerry Mulligan and Pepper Adams. In 2009 Jakubovic met George Mraz in New York and Mraz helped him to set up an ensemble with the trumpet player Randy Brecker, the pianist Phil Markowitz, the drummer Adam Nussbaum and others. It was rightly called the All Stars Band. This year in January he appeared at a concert in the Jazz at the Castle series in Prague in a sextet, bringing in his collaborator of many years, Randy Brecker. The trombonist of the band was Svatopluk Kosvanec, the pianist Emil Viklicky, the bassist Petr Dvorsky and the drummer Laco Tropp.

Czech Jazz on a Path Without Barriers

Contemporary Czech jazz is very diverse and ever more internationalised. The advent of the youngest generation can be said to have strengthened its modern-conceived mainstream, in which ensembles most often turn to the legacy of hard bop or cool jazz. A whole range of bands also draw on avant-garde movements, starting with third current or free jazz - usually this is not a matter of specialised focus, but more of seeking and finding inspiration in the abundance of styles and trends from the past to the present, naturally also influenced by contact with alternative forms of the current rock scene and contemporary music in general. Experimentation with electronics is becoming incorporated in this abundance to a reasonable extent. The second decade of the second jazz century has started promisingly for the Czech scene.
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Title Annotation:theme
Author:Kouril, Vladimir
Publication:Czech Music
Geographic Code:4EXCZ
Date:Jan 1, 2010
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