The JazzFestBrno festival has announced the first names of performers for the coming anniversary year. The 20th season of this international festival will start in March and its programme so far boasts names such as Chick Corea, Vicente Amigo, Cécile McLorin Salvant and the GoGo Penguin trio.
The organisers believe that they will be able to hold the spring parade despite the current complicated situation in the culture sector. "All venues are very flexible and will allow us to respond to current sanitation measures. Already this year in the autumn, we have tried out the organisation of several concerts under stricter hygienic conditions, where everything worked perfectly, and that is why we are all the more confident that we will be able to organise the concerts next year as well," says the executive director of the festival Vlastimil Trllo. Tickets for new concerts as well as those postponed from this year are available on the website.
The organisers will publish the complete programme of the upcoming season in January as usual. "We are also planning to celebrate the anniversary of the festival at the beginning of June in the popular Goose on a String Theatre (Divadlo Husa na provázku). We will leave the details of the programme shrouded in a light mist for some time going forward. At the moment I will only disclose that the top acts of the Czech scene will be encountered on three stages, and that it will actually be a one-day festival in a festival with a great number of concerts, but also an exhibition, workshops, jam sessions and opportunities for musicians and jazz fans to meet," suggests the artistic director of the festival Vilém Spilka.
The anniversary 20th season of the festival will be launched on 7 March at the Janáček Theatre by Chick Corea – a 23-times Grammy winner, inventive composer, improviser and piano virtuoso, this time in the Czech première of his Vigilette trio. His ground-breaking album Now He Sings, Now He Sobs from 1968 resonated not only throughout the jazz scene, while music reviewers heralded the arrival of a new piano trio master. And although Corea liked to make excursions into more numerous or more intimate musical projects, he spent the last 50 years mainly looking for new trio adventures. In the Vigilette formation, he meets the rhythmic backbone of the band The Vigil, with which he made his debut in Brno back in 2013. Carlitos Del Puerto playing bass guitar and Marcus Gilmore playing drums support Corea's unmistakable signature in a programme consisting of makeovers of jazz standards, melodies by pianists Corea considers his musical heroes, as well as his own legendary compositions.
The interaction of jazz with other genres has already given rise to a lot of first-class and distinctive music. This also applies to the intermingling of jazz with flamenco. This will be demonstrated by the Latin Grammy holder, the guitarist Vicente Amigo, at the Brno premiere on 26 April at the Janáček Theatre. This unique artist, composer and producer appeared on the major flamenco stages already as a teenager. Since then, he has received a number of awards; apart from the Latin Grammy also a national gold medal for merit in the arts. The career of this Andalusian guitarist intersected with legends of the flamenco genre, such as Paco de Lucía or Camarón de la Isla, but he was no less influenced by jazz guitarists, among them especially John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola. In Brno, Amigo will mainly present songs from his album Memoria de los Sentidos (Memory of the Senses), which has also been nominated for global Grammy Awards in the World Music category.
The International Jazz Day will be celebrated in the Besední Dům on 30 April by Cécile McLorin Salvant, a singer who has won a Grammy Award in the vocal jazz category three times in four years for three consecutive albums. No artist in the field of jazz singing has recently gained more honours than this young and charming vocalist. "Cécile McLorin Salvant was born in Florida to parents originating from France and Haiti, and her multicultural roots are mirrored in her works. She recorded her latest studio album The Window in a duo with pianist Sullivan Fortner, and after collaborating with larger ensembles, she is enjoying more freedom in this duo, which also offers such a broad range of possibilities as if there were a multi-member band on the stage. In this particular duo she will also perform at her première appearance in Brno", says Spilka looking forward to it with joy.
GoGo Penguin is among the most interesting bands on the contemporary British scene and it is no wonder that they have earned the title of the "Radiohead of British Jazz". The trio is inspired by classical and electronic music, characterised by anthem-like melodies and telepathic interplay. With their melodic lines and sophisticated harmonies, GoGo Penguin are reminiscent of a typical piano trio based on jazz and classical music, but the rhythms stem more from electronic music. GoGo Penguin don't bother with tradition, so although it's customary to name a debut album eponymously with the band, a record entitled "GoGo Penguin" was released only recently as their fifth studio album. The repertoire from this album published by the prestigious Blue Note label will also form the axis of the Brno performance of this British band on 22 April at the Sono Centre.
Due to the circumstances, the year 2020 was full of organisational improvisation. Nevertheless, several concerts were successfully organised, and especially Avishai Cohen's concert in the middle of September was some kind of a miracle in the context of the times. The concurrently running JazzFestBrno for Children project also met with a great acclaim. The festival has already successfully survived, for example, the global financial crisis in the past, and that is also why the organisers are optimistic about the future. "The fact that we already have 20 years behind us is on the one hand proof of the constantly high level of the event, but also a commitment to unceasing innovation and improvement of the festival concept, its format and the professionalism of its organisation. We simply must not rest on our laurels," concludes Spilka.