Twice five jazzmen in the Sono Centre

27 November 2018, 8:00

Twice five jazzmen in the Sono Centre

Two servings of first class musical mastery and each one different. One was musical show that was demanding for its audience, where only informed listeners perceived it as a reminder of tragic events. And the second was a lighter dance-like evening with songs that could be sung by the whole of the hall at the Sono Centre. The organisers of JazzFest Brno have shown that no two jazz quintets are alike. Both of the leaders in the last two concerts of this year’s festival rightly got the stormy applause they deserved. At the same time you could hardly see on stage two such different musicians as Terence Blanchard and Richard Bona.

It was down to chance that in both cases the hall of Sono Centre was filled by a quintet with the line-up of trumpet, keyboards, guitar, bass guitar and drums. In one case the frontman was a trumpeter from the cradle of jazz in New Orleans, while in the other he was a bass guitarist who as a little boy played in his home village in Cameroon on the balafon and came to jazz via African music. However this is not the main difference between Blanchard and Bona. The first off them presented himself to Brno as a taciturn master, speaking virtually only through various distorted tones on his trumpet, or at times with the aid off his laptop keyboard. He only greeted his audience, which had listened closely to his demanding works that were fifteen minutes or more long, after an hour and a half. Conversely Bona presented himself like a comic, playing with the word BRRRRno (on a personal note: I once found myself with this exceptional bass guitarist on the same flight; I managed to grab a few words with him while we were still at the airport, praising him for one of the previous Brno concerts and even then while still in the plane Bona rattled out BRRRRno several times), warned against the mafia (concerning his Italian colleague Ciro Manna), expressed surprise that Brno’s inhabitants preferred his concert over church and sang with his grateful audience the folk song Vyletěla holubička ze skály.

blanchard_terence_2018_echoes_foto_martin_zeman

Terence Blanchard has dedicated two albums with his current group the E-Collective on the theme of violence in today’s United States. This year’s CD Live was even recorded in places where police “accidentally” killed innocent Afro-Americans or where dark-skinned policemen died during unrest. He does not draw attention to this theme (as depicted in the author’s article from a telephone interview) directly during concerts, but rather in gatherings, interviews or videos. Bona also has his big themes (in an interview for us he complained about how African radio stations seldom broadcast songs in traditional languages), but he has no desire to fight (“After all I wasn’t born to fight. I was born to live. Who should I fight against? I want to live in peace with others, I want to share with them,” he says). While Blanchard’s current works are essentially activist and militant (especially to those who know the context well), Bona wants above all to entertain. Of course the proficiency with which he combines African, Cuban, Indian and American music evokes peace and sharing with others, and so is actually also an activist. In truth Blanchard and Bona mirror our times, and even though they use different means and forms, the aim – peaceful coexistence between races r nations – is essentially the same.

bona_richard_2018_JFB_foto_martin_zeman

Both concerts were of course exceptional even when the listener took no notice of the already mentioned context, or was ignorant of it. Blanchard’s energetic and in places deliberately “dirty” playing on the trumpet from the first piece Hannibal competed with several keyboard instruments and especially with the solo electric guitar of Charles Altura. On the other hand Bona’s guitarist Ciro Manna in the first two pieces stayed in the background, but took a full part in the hit Please Don’t Stop. Bona also used as a “supplement” to his masterly bass the keyboard of his colleague Michael Le Coq and an absolutely crucial instrument also in the case of his group was the trumpet of the Cuban Dennis Hernandez, who at times sounded almost like a whole wind section.

blanchard_terence_2018_JFB_foto_martin_zeman

While Blanchard’s concert was based entirely on abstract musical language, supported by the play of lighting, and worked with long pieces as well as fragmented passages, Bona did not present himself only as a virtuoso bass guitarist but also as a singer able to cover several vocal registers. Blanchard’s E-Collective was a great celebration of electric and electronic jazz, with Bona in contrast also drawing attention with purely vocal numbers using a looper.

Both these November concerts had much in common (and not just the line-up of five instruments), but at the same time offered almost opposite perspectives on contemporary jazz with forays into other genres. Both presented significant bandleaders, but at the same time had important roles for sidemen. Both concerts showed that contemporary jazz extends beyond the sphere of music. And they also show that top-level jazz is at home in Brno and musicians from the first division also feel at home there.

JazzFestBrno, last two concerts of 2018: Terence Blanchard & the E-Colletive (Sono Centre, 23/11/2018); Richard Bona Group (Sono Centre, 25/11/2018).

Foto Martin Zeman

Comments

Reply

No comment added yet..

Visitors to concerts meet quite often with quartet compositions written by masters of European music. Haydn's string quartets are perennial stars in the repertoire of a number of ensembles and attention is also paid to works of contemporary European composers. Only exceptionally, however, can listeners take a peek into the musical cuisine of Asian or South American nations. Cuarteto Q-Arte decided to fill this blank space and dedicated itself to the works of Latin American authors. The programme, which they presented yesterday at the chateau in Slavkov u Brna (Austerlitz), consisted of works by Silvestre Revueltas, Alberto  Ginastera and Astor Piazzolla. All these three composers combine elements of domestic culture with European training and influences or impulses of different genres.  more

Why be one of the many average bands when we can be a unique band? The ten-year history of the Brno group Kupodivu could be squeezed into this motto. In 2009, saxophonist Jaroslav Pilný and keyboard player Petr Šašinka first talked about forming a band. In 2019, the band Kupodivu [Surprisingly Enough] is releasing its first full-length album. Exactly in the middle of this ten-year period, in 2014, an important change took place when the original folk band was transformed into an interesting shape with keyboards, saxophone and bass, but without a guitar. The line-up, which resembles rather jazz bands in recent years, has scored at a lot of folk festivals in recent years. Kupodivu won the Porta award for authors, the Rada Notování [Council of Notation] award, won the Moravský vrabec [Moravian Sparrow], and won second place at the Mohelnický dostavník [Mohelnice  Stagecoach]. At all these venues they performed music that rather than campfires fits into city clubs, and by far not only folk ones. The album Živočišné pudy [Animal Instincts] summarizes the band's work so far in a dignified way, underlined by the quality sound from the Zlín Studio V.  more

The Jerusalem Quartet is one of the world's leading quartet performers for many years and is currently one of the most cited chamber music ensembles. At the Concentus Moraviae festival, violinists Alexander Pavlovsky, Sergei Bresler, violist Ori Kam and cellist Kyril Zlotnikov performed in the Great Chateau of Mikulov Castle with a programme stretching in time from Joseph Haydn up to Béla Bartók. The concert was held under the auspices of the Israeli Ambassador to the Czech Republic, HE Daniel Meron.  more

Man does not live by classical music alone, as the Epoque Quartet, consisting of violinists David Pokorný, Vladimír Klánský, violist Vladimír Kroupa and cellist Vít Petrášek has been convincing us for twenty years already. For their Saturday concert, staged as part of the Concentus Moraviae festival, which took place in the foyer of the Pasáž theatre in Třebíč, the musicians also invited bass clarinettist Petr Valášek, pianist Karel Košárek and percussionist Oleg Sokolov. The programme of the evening consisted entirely of works by contemporary authors flirting in their compositions not only with musical minimalism, but also with jazz and other popular genres.  more

Šarivary: Melanž

6 June 2019, 1:00

The title of this album is deceiving. Although the group Šarivary uses the Czech phonetic transcription of the French expressions charivari and mélange, it is not composed of any Czechs. The quartet that got together in Brno is headed by French singer, flutist and accordionist Aude Martin and American guitarist and singer Chris Coleman. Besides them, the band is formed by Swedish trumpeter Christopher Strandh and Slovak bass guitar player Tomáš Ulahel. The band's music is as colourful as its motley ethnic composition.  more

On the last day of May, the Dominikánské Square in Brno came to life with music, singing and dancing. At half past two in the afternoon, the programme of the nationwide happening of primary artistic schools ZUŠ started under the patronage of the Magdalena Kožená Endowment Fund by announcing the results of the "TO JE talent"competition. The participants did not only come to pick up with prizes. Several of the award-winning singers and musicians proved this. For example, Lucie Sedláčková with the song by Ewa Farná Měls mě vůbec rád [Did You Love Me At All?] attracted an ever growing crowd of listeners, while singer and pianist Veronika Vávrová did the same with the ballad Million Reasons by Lady Gaga.  more

The programme of this year's Concentus Moraviae festival presents an unprecedented cross-section of more than twenty Czech and foreign string quartets. The exceptional violinist, composer, professor of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK, and the long-time first violinist of the Škampa Quartet, Pavel Fischer, was asked by publicist Lukáš Pavlica to give an interview.  more

A farewell was bidden to a great figure of Moravian culture took place in the Basilica of Old Brno on Thursday 30 May at 11 a.m. Not that culture that flows around us every day in magazines and the media, but culture called independent, alternative, underground, and in the person of the deceased, moreover interwoven with spiritual radicalism and Christian tradition. Jaroslav Erik Frič died aged 69 years on 24 May 2019 after a severe illness, but mentally active until his last days.  more

The Brno group Hrozně slowly approach forty years of age – they started to give concerts in 1982. After several cassettes and unofficial recordings, they released a CD with their debut album Už není čas [There Is No Time Left] in 2013. Their new album named Ticho [Silence], which the band was working on over the last two years in the Indies studio, brings a surprise with its cleaner sound and clearly audible tension in the structure of the songs.  more

On May 17-19, the film festival on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Masaryk University came with some extraordinarily interesting screenings, reminiscent of important personalities from the university's history. The first of them had, in addition to the relationship with natural science, also the merit of studying folk songs. Professor Vladimír Úlehla (1888 – 1947) was commemorated by an impressive show by his great-granddaughter Julia Ulehla on Friday 17 May.  more

This year's Jazzman, a fanzine of the JazzFest music festival, was full of extensive medallions and articles and also featured a noteworthy commentary by the Czech Radio's dramaturge Petr Vidomus with a somewhat provocative headline: Jazz Doesn't Need to Be a Men's ClubThe article contemplates  some  of the gender stereotypes, which the world (and therefore consequently not even the Czech) jazz scene has not yet gotten rid of completely. Great female soloists, mastering instruments previously entirely reserved for men, are growing in numbers. Although gender coding, which Vidomus described in a very precise and ironic way, has not yet been  completely overcome, JazzFest contributed significantly to its gradual elimination this year.  more

Over the four years that divide the release of the first album Záhir, and the second one entitled O Písni [About the Song], Lee Band virtually moved on (previously they stated Adamov as their domicile, now it is Jedovnice), they got on a "wild card" to the Porta festival semifinals in Řevnice, and above all, they advanced slightly in their musical style. While the debut album was more about a folk-rock mainstream, benefiting from the sound of an electric guitar, the new album is dominated by acoustic guitars, often in combination with mandolin and other acoustic instruments.  more

As part of this year’s European Tour, Bobby McFerrin visited Brno’s Sono Centre, where he managed to perfectly use the brilliant acoustics and the close contact with the audience. The legend is back. Indeed, he comes back regularly, and not just to Brno.  more

This year’s eighteenth JazzFest Brno will exceptionally not close with a concert, but rather a unique (though not unusual for world festivals) series of musical and dance workshops, centred on children. On Saturday 4 May, in the pleasant environment of Café Práh, near Vaňkovka, the children students will be taken on board by the significant young personalities of the jazz scene: Beata Hlavenková (pianist and composition lecturer), Dano Šoltis (leader of the drum class) and the multi-instrumentalists Jiří Slavík and Marian Friedl (conductors of Wandering on Jazz Paths), who will be accompanied by Kateřina Hanzlíková with the Tancohraní lectures. With the exception of composition, where it is necessary for the participants to be older than twelve, all the other “classes” are open to everyone, including the youngest. We asked the co-author of the idea of the children’s workshop and director of JazzFest Brno, Vilém Spilka, for further information.  more

The musical Nine, based on the legendary film 8½ by director Frederico Fellini, was prepared under director Stanislav Moša as the penultimate premiere of the season at the Brno City Theatre. They prepared an at places almost erotic show, led by interesting scenography, well-made costumes, brilliant musical preparation and the energy of the female acting. The sensuality of some of the dance parts thankfully did not overshadow the central theme of the hero’s crises: mid-life, art and relationship.  more

Editorial

Brno Philharmonic announces a selection procedure for the position of advance sales administrator. Starting from 1 August 2019.  more

The Kamenka Open multi-genre festival will revive the meadow in the Kamenná kolonie neighbourhood in Brno for the tenth time already. This year's guests include Funky Pappa, Jamiroquai Tribute Band and Pleasure Portable. Theatres will be represented by the Hysterie Theatre, Koráb Theatre or the Bez Pravidel Theatre.    more

The fourth season of the Jazz Courtyard festival is once again returning to Brno. It will offer a series of concerts initiated jointly by the jazz departments of Prague's Academy of Perfoming Arts (HAMU) and Brno's Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU). Students' ensembles of both schools and their own long-term projects of selected students and teachers will be introduced. The event will be closed by the African Ghana Dance Ensemble.  more

The multi-genre festival held under the title of Brno Marathon of Music has published a part of its main programme today. During the four days of the festival, traditional "streetless busking", a meeting of organ players, an event called "Endless Organ" at the Jesuit Church and another one named Pianoštafeta [Piano Relay Race] in the Alfa Mall will take place in the city centre. Performers  such as  DJ Jon Hopkins from Britain, the dance circus group Motionhouse and NoFit State or Cirk La Putyka will come to perform in Brno. The local scene will be represented by the ensemble Hausopera with their show entitled The Last Polo, which will take place directly in the swimming pool of a spa.  more

As the last of the opera premieres of this season, the NdB will present a production by one of the leading Czech directors, David Radok, who is returning to follow up on Modrovousův hrad/ Očekávání [Modrovous's Castle / Expectations]. This production combines two one-act works: Martinů's Three Fragments of Juliette and Poulenc's Human Voice. Radok is also the author of stage design. The musical production of the opera was led by the chief conductor of the Janáček Opera of the National Theatre Brno, Marko Ivanović. The main role will be performed by Jana Šrejma Kačírková, who will portray both Juliette and The Woman in Human Voice. The Danish tenor Magnus Vigilius is also returning to the Brno stage, this time in the role of Michele. The performance has been co-produced with the Swedish Opera in Gothenburg.  more

The autumn Echoes of JazzFestBrno will take place for the sixth time in a row. This year they will belong to pianists. One of the most prominent representatives of contemporary Asian music production, Hiromi Uehara from Japan, will appear. Her show will be followed by a concert of the American jazzman Aaron Parks, who will appear in Brno in the role of bandleader with a project entitled Little Big. In the second part of the evening, Shai Maestro will perform with his trio.  more

The National Theatre Brno Ballet is preparing for an open-air performance. The Bishop's Court will host the traditional Summer Ballet Cocktail.  more

The Ghettofest Street Festival takes place in an excluded location known as the "Bronx of Brno", for which this socio-cultural concept has been created. The whole event opens the boundaries of the imaginary "ghetto", encouraging natural encounters and coexistence in one city. The dramaturgically varied programme features concerts, workshops and guided tours of the neighbourhood. The festival stages will feature Čankišou, Candish, Feri And The Gipsies, Please The Trees and a lot more.  more

The Young Gods, representatives of industrial rock, will visit the Czech Republic once again and come to Brno. This Swiss trio will bring their album Data Mirage Tangram. This record, full of audio experiments, is now being released after a nine-year break. The band's founding member, programmer Cesare Pizzi, who has now returned to the band, also contributed to the recording of the album.  more

The Brno funk-folk group Kupodivu [Surprisingly Enough] is releasing an album named Živočišné pudy [Animal Instincts]. After the EP's Písně kapesní [Pocket Songs] (2014) and Kupodivu [Surprisingly Enough] (2017), this is already their third serial record. The album contains 13 songs. The launch of the CD will take place at ArtBar Druhý Pád.  more