The last week full of musical events culminated in the final round of the Central European Jazz Competition organised by the “neighbouring” jazz festivals – JazzFestBrno and Poysdorf Jazz & Wine. This cross-border musical project has a promising future: the first year of the jazz competition in its final afternoon offered six half-hour blocks of the finalists, who were a surprise with their musical range and the quality of their musicianship.
There were concerts by big bands at the start and finish of the spring programme of this year’s Jazzfest Brno. And both were supreme musical experiences. The Christian McBride Big Band as one of the three concluding concerts for their European tour for the first time performed in Brno’s Sono Centre. And it was great: crossover, entertaining and light playing, at the same time full of virtuosity and inventive and creative playing. “When we play together it is one big party,” stated the double bass player and bandleader Christian McBride at the start – and both he and his colleagues certainly confirmed that.
The parade of European and world saxophonists at this year's Jazzfest Brno festival stylishly concluded with virtuoso technique and inventiveness linking the various branches of jazz - the respected Austrian sideman and soloist Harald Harry Sokal with his Groove trio and the New York legend Chris Potter, who led his Quartet on the stage of the Sono Centre with his latest project - the album The Dreamer Is The Dream.
In the week before Easter JazzFest entered its second half. Another series of concerts linking various forms of jazz from traditional through jazz-rock to funk begun with an evening of Brno and Prague jazz legends in CED Husa na provázku and followed by a double concert of the Jiří Šimek guitar trio and the stellar Poogie Bell Band with their unmistakeable (and resounding) frontman on his drum kit.
The singer Lenka Nová was born in Brno. Even now she frequently and happily returns. Last autumn she released her third profile disk, Čtyřicítka (Forty), on which there are ten personal songs with texts by Michal Horáček. She was recently nominated for the Anděl music prize in the category Singer of the Year. This year with a newly rehearsed repertoire on March 8 and 9 in the bar U kouřícího králíka in her home town she opened her Čtyřicítka Tour, the spring part of which will be concluded with a Prague concert in the DVA studio on May 21. And we spoke about all of this …
We talked with Jitka Šuranská about a new album full of music, where she is the bandleader, but as she points out herself, she is only one of three equal elements. The Jitka Šuranská Trio consists of her, cross-genre mandolinist Martin Krajíček and multi-instrumentalist (educated jazz bassist) Marian Friedl. The three musicians started the debut tour of the first album Divé husy symbolically on 1 October at the Goose Festival in Boskovice, two day later they launched it in the Stará Pekárna Club in Brno. Until mid-October, they will be touring clubs, cinemas and libraries in Náchod, Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, Zlín and České Budějovice. Although the trio mentions folk songs as their inspiration, their author's coat is made of many musical styles, yet it is harmonious and interesting. And Jitka's own musician's path is important and inspirational for the final outcome.
Artists from the Brno national Theatre enjoyed the first applause of the new season in the open air. Just like last year, the largest Moravian theatre opened in the sun-warmed piazzetta in front of Janáček Theatre. The large temporary stage on the outdoor staircase of the opera house was dominated by soloists of the opera and ballet, as well as the opera orchestra and chorus. The large space in front of Janáček Theatre was again filled with hundreds of standing spectators. According to the data available to the theatre, the number of visitors, who stopped by to see the more than two-hour-long tasting of existing and planned productions of the opera and ballet at the Brno National Theatre exceeded 1,000. The weather and the mood of future visitors corresponded to the programme in all aspects: the remarks by the theatre director Martin Glaser and all three artistic leaders (Mário Radačovský for balet, Jiří Heřman for opera and Martin Františák for theatre) were concise and factually informative. The above quartet always introduced individual blocks with examples of productions.
Saturday night completed the 17th Špilberk International Music Festival with an original attempt at a dialogue between the jazz band Robert Balzar Trio with the exceptionally talented singer Dan Bárta and symphonists of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra. The final, fifth concert of the festival in the crowded courtyard of the Brno castle provided a dignified end to the August series of musical evenings with live and recorded music, offering a varied mix of different musical genres.