Talented students and experienced jazz musicians will perform at the Jazz Courtyard for the eighth time. Student ensembles and long-running projects of selected students and teachers will perform on behalf of the jazz departments of Prague’s HAMU and Brno’s JAMU in a unique concert program. The Brno part of the event will take place in the courtyard of the Old Town Hall.
On Friday and Saturday, Brno’s Obřany will come alive with culture. The 9th edition of the ObrFest open-air festival will take place for the second time at several locations on the outskirts of the city. Audiences will be able to attend more than two dozen concerts of independent music - performers include Amelia Siba with Kryštof Kříček, Hrubá Hudba or Midi Lidi, there will be theatres for children and adults, and a rich literary and accompanying program.
The festival presents its evening program in six cities, which includes nearly thirty multi-genre events, performances, concerts, improvisations and student presentations. In Brno, for example, it will present a multi-genre stage adaptation of Bára Basiková’s cult book, a chamber recital by chansonnier Nadia Válová and opera singer Kateřina Beranová, presentations of the festival’s dance workshops and Martin Kyšperský along with dance instructors from the ProART Festival.
Armenian jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan has long been dedicated to either his own work or to the inspiration of Armenian folklore. It wasn't until his tenth album, StandArt, that he decided to work with jazz standards, compositions that work for most jazz musicians as basic preparation and as material that players from all over the world agree on when jamming together. The pianist will present his current album on Friday 24 March 2023 at the Sono Centre in Brno as part of the JazzFestBrno festival.
“We did it as a session, sitting opposite each other, so that the viewer would have the experience of coming to a rehearsal,” says singer Dan Bárta, describing how his current album, In One Breath (Jedním dechem), was recorded together with the jazz Robert Balzar Trio and Hungarian trumpeter Kornél Fekete-Kovács. The jazziest album in Dan Bárta’s rich discography was released on the Brno label Bivak Records and was recorded in the Brno studio of Czech Television.
Nikol Bóková, a native of Ostrava, has long been considered a unique talent in the field of classical music. At the age of nine, she played as a solo pianist with the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, and studying at the conservatory and then at the JAMU was a matter of course. But already during her studies of classical music, another of her talents, that of composition, took shape and gradually manifested itself. Together with her trio (Nikol Bóková-piano, Martin Kocián-contrabass, Michal Wierzgoń-drums), she recorded her debut album Inner Place in 2019 and immediately established herself among the Czech (and indeed European) jazz elite. Two more projects followed during the cover – Unravel (2020) for the same named line-up and last year’s Prometheus, recorded with extraordinary commitment by a remarkable studio line-up. Out of this and several subsequent concerts (among others during JazzFest Brno last autumn) crystallized also the quite logical expansion of her trio with the versatile and empathetic guitarist David Dorůžka, the Nikol Bóková Quartet. This line-up was also the birthplace of the latest album Elements, with which a new creative phase opens for Nikol and her partner and co-creator Jan Vala.
Last year’s 100th anniversary of Gustav Brom’s birth still resonates on the domestic jazz scene. At the very end of 2021, a 4-CD set entitled “Gustav Brom – 100 Years” was released, offering a cross-section of the orchestra’s repertoire, from songwriting to jazz to intersections with contemporary classical music. Alongside this, an album charting the Brom Orchestra’s long-standing collaboration with Karel Velebný has also appeared on the same label (Indies Happy Trails). Radio editor, jazz musician, and teacher Jan Dalecký was one of the producers of both albums.
Another in a series of themed “anniversary” orchestral concepts by Jiří Kotača for his big band, this one commemorates the centenary of the birth of Canadian-American jazz pianist, composer, bandleader, and above all, genius arranger Gil Evans and his successful collaboration with legendary trumpeter Miles Davis in the late 1950s.
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.
One of the few positives of the otherwise tormented musical year 2020 is the unusually rich Czech jazz harvest: sixty (!) albums and projects either purely jazz or significantly affected by jazz were released last year. Many of the most highly acclaimed ones are connected to Brno in various ways – for example, the debut Bigbandová elektronika (Bigband Electronica) by the increasingly prominent Cotatcha Orchestra and the ensemble’s second album Dust in the Groove, testing the boundaries of classical music and jazz through refined improvisation.
Anyone who knows the B-Side Band, especially through performing international hit songs with the singer Vojtěch Dyk, or last year’s album Folk Swing, may be surprised by their unique take on a production of Jaromír Hnilička’s Missa Jazz. In fact, the big band’s history is tightly interwoven with the composer’s legendary Jazz Mass.
“It’s absolutely perfect, I play it all the time and it plays in my head all the time,” commented Matěj H., a music studies graduate and Brno politician. In another Facebook debate, a musical editor with a pen name of Max B. depicts it to be “totally horrible stuff.” Few domestic albums recorded in 2020 received such varied responses as Folk Swings, a collection of what were initially contemporary folk songs, re-arranged to become big-band pieces and performed by B-Side Band with Josef Buchta as the bandmaster.
The album Folk Swings of the Brno-based B-Side Band is being vividly discussed on social networks. Can a big band take the liberty of to playing the "sacred" songs of Czech folk? And what if these compositions are sung along with the band directly by their authors such as Jaromír Nohavica, Vlasta Redl or Slávek Janoušek? However, while the above might have been able to have their say concerning the arrangements, Karel Kryl, Zuzana Navarová or Wabi Ryvola could no longer make any comments regarding the makeovers of their songs… We talked to Petr Kovařík and Pavel Zlámal, members of the orchestra, about how the album was created, why Ryvola's song 'Tereza' sounds like a Cuban dance, and why 'Podvod' ('Scam') by Honza Nedvěd is played only as an instrumental piece. The two guys have actually created new arrangements for widely famed as well as less well-known folk songs, which now appear on this album.