Brno musicians are talented in various genres, and they’re generally long-lived and vital individuals. This was resoundingly clear during the jubilee celebration of Mojmír Bártek, a teacher, composer, arranger, and above all a virtuoso trombone player. The jubilee concert, dubbed Mojda Bártek 80, was prepared by his friends under the direction of B-Side Band trumpeter and bandleader Josef Buchta. Despite the birthday boy’s open and (sometimes emotional) enjoyment of the two and a half hour program, he still remained an active participant of the entire musical production except for brief moments of rest. He performed as the author of many compositions, but above all as a player, trombone in hand and fully committed.
Even before joining the Sono Centrum, the Brno Conservatory’s Big Band, founded in 2010 and still led by the jubilarian, was used to winning. Bártek and those present in the hall (mostly musicians) were moved by the welcome: the camera followed the celebrant arriving in a limousine and being transported by lift to the stage, where everything was projected on a large horizontal screen. The star of the evening arrived, took a bow, and the whole hall sang him the Czech “Happy Birthday to you, dear Mojdo” in chorus. The red-faced native of Moravian Wallachia spent his childhood and youth in Vsetín, where he graduated from high school. He then moved to Brno to attend the State Conservatory, where he studied his hallmark trombone (1963-1967). Already during his studies, he was active in the orchestra of Mirko Foret, and before graduation he was offered a position in the Gustav Brom Orchestra, where he became a principal player and remained for 42 years (1967-2009). This brief biography was accompanied by photographic documentation and projected on the screen behind the stage (Mojda with his trombone, but also Mojda at the cottage, on skis, playing tennis, etc.), together with individual pieces of the evening’s first musical formation – Bártek’s tribal Trombone Summit. A four-piece trombone band, backed by a three-piece rhythm section (keyboard, bass, and drums played by the family tradition successor, his son Ctibor Bártek), played four of Mojda’s compositions: V zatáčce, Chalupářský valčík, Talíř cukroví, and Který to víc roztočí.
A recorded greeting from Mojda’s friend Helena Vondráčková brought a bit of outside perspective to the evening; Helena sincerely regretted the clash of the concert date with her concert tour and sang him a “Happy Birthday to You”. This was followed by a performance of The Young Pekáč, which Bártek founded in 1989 originally as a student combo at the Folk School of Art in Modřice. It has gradually developed into a band which brings together students (and graduates) of various musical and non-musical disciplines of Brno secondary schools and universities with a taste for jazz, swing, and other related genres. There were several instrumentals and two sung compositions: Contact, the bossa nova PeLaBa, Basin Street Blues performed by Miriam Kalichová, Ježek’s song Život je jen náhoda performed by Hedvika Šlápotová, and finally an instrumental tribute to the Wallachian queen of folk singing Jarmila Šuláková A vy pání muzikanti, during which the birthday boy played the bass grand piano.
The subsequent intermission, originally intended for the reconstruction of the stage for the production of the Gustav Brom Radio Big Band, was prolonged for almost an hour due to electrical problems, and even then the problem could not be solved. The second half of the concert took place in a merciful twilight, with only the orchestral players’ music stands being illuminated, and the audience missed out on a dramaturgically composed sequence of historical video recordings intended for screening between each live number of the program. When the theme song of the Gustav Brom Orchestra, now the Gustav Brom Radio Big Band conducted by Vlado Valovič, was played, however, the audience perked up and settled down in anticipation of the next program. With a few exceptions, it had been prepared as a tribute to the “golden generation” of musicians of the Gustav Brom Orchestra from the 1960s to the 1980s (including Hnilička, Audes, Kočí, Novák, Tropp), among whom Mojmír Bártek undoubtedly ranked not only as an excellent trombonist, but also as a composer and arranger. This was made clear by the opening instrumental Strécovská dvanáctka, during which Mojmír took a trombone solo. The line of congratulations was symbolically opened by the long-time singer and orchestra manager Tibor Lenský with a Czech version of Irving Berlin’s hit Cheek to Cheek První duben, followed by a somewhat clumsy version of George Gershwin’s Summertime performed by Zuzana Gamboa. The composition Oblak, as a symbolic greeting to the Brno Conservatory Big Band, was performed by soloist Ivana Húšťavová on alto saxophone accompanied by the “bromos”. Other congratulators were the somewhat indisposed but determined Laďa Kerndl with Armstrong’s hit What a Wonderful World and Helena Blehárová with Kainar’s Černá kára. As a reminder of the annual summer jazz school where he used to go to teach during the holidays, Mojmír Bártek composed Na shledanou ve Frýdlantě, in which he took another trombone solo. A reminder of the peak period of the Gustav Brom Orchestra and Bártek’s tenure in its ranks was the performance of Jitka Zelenka, a long-time singer of the band. She chose the Czech song Smích je lék and an adaptation of Kurt Weill’s former hit Mackie Messer, with Jiří Suchý writing the lyrics for Miloš Kopecký. The final song, Sedmikrásky nad Brnem, was sung by all the singers together with the completely filled hall of the Sono Centrum. There were many performers, and Mojmír Bártek was the celebrant as well as the unquestionable main star of the evening. It was simply “švarný”, as he loves to say himself.
The evening was consecrated and deftly accompanied by the program head of Czech Radio Brno, Jiří Kokmotos, who also managed the recording made by Czech Radio’s audio equipment. The show should premiere on July 5 this year.