Sunday, December 8, 2013

Jazzová KLAUSura Continues...

The fifth JK concert, featuring American singer Deborah Davis, completed the 2013 programme of the former President's concert series.

Having written the programme notes for concert there is little to add in the way of a review, other than to say it was a a thoroughly professional and accomplished performance by the well-travelled singer and her Czech and Slovak band for the night. Presenting herself with flamboyance and glamour she showcased her interpretations and arrangements of classic tunes, including a seasonal encore, and was a commanding presence in the intimate auditorium that is the Autoklub.

The band, led by pianist Tomáš Jochmann, maintained that delicate balance of being sensitive to the singer's needs while at the same time keeping their own playing interesting and attractive in its own right. Young saxophonist Jan Fečo was a revelation, and is definitely a star in the making.

Bringing together musicians from around the world for one-night-only collaborations has been one of the most exciting aspects of the Jazzová KLAUSura concerts, and hopefully 2014 will bring more excellent entertainment for fans of sophisticated and unique jazz concerts in Prague.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Jazzová KLAUSura 5 - Deborah Davis

The next Jazzová KLAUSura concert takes place on December 4th. I was given the honour of writing the programme notes for this event, but because the printed form will be translated into Czech I am making the original English text available here. 

December’s Jazzová KLAUSura brings together one of America’s hottest vocal jazz talents and several young stars of the Czech and Slovak jazz scene, performing together for the first time in what is going to be an intimate and elegant evening of music.

Born in 1956, Deborah moved from her home of Dallas, Texas to New York City in 1986, where she became a leading name in the vibrant Big Apple club scene. She is no stranger to large audiences either, opening for the likes of Eric Clapton, Jamie Cullum and Santana in Monte Carlo. She travels the globe extensively, frequently performing in Russia where she ventures away from the traditional tourist trails and has even toured Siberia. In her own words, music is the Universal Language and she relishes the fun and challenge of playing in new places and with new people, communicating with the band and audience through emotion as much as through the words of the songs she sings.

Following in the footsteps of powerful and charismatic American female vocalists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, Deborah has led bands featuring some of the great jazz players of her generation, including Benny Green, Delfeayo Marsalis, Cyrus Chestnut and James Williams, and has been called to the stage to jam by artists of the calibre of Art Blakey and Freddie Hubbard. In 2004 she and her band were chosen by the U.S. State Department and the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC as Jazz Ambassadors travelling to Latin America with a mission of goodwill and jazz awareness.

Deborah has never been to Prague before, but its reputation as a beautiful place in a country that appreciates music has spread far and wide, and she is looking forward experiencing the city as much as we are looking forward to experiencing her performance. With a wide and varied repertoire to draw from, the one thing we can be sure of is that the music will be honest. "I don't sing many songs that have nothing to do with me, how I feel or who I am. I have to be able to relate, because I'm not acting. I'm singing my story. It doesn't matter if it's Europe, Asia, the U.S., a village of mud huts, a concert, a tour, a wedding, private event or party . I'm singing because I'm happy. I'm singing because I'm free.".

Deborah has recorded and produced three albums under her own name, “No Ways Tired”, “Only Part of Me” and “Compilation”, releasing them on her own label and presenting her interpretations of classic tunes such as “Secret Love” and “The Very Thought of You.” Her current plans involve more extensive touring to bring her music to new places and new audiences, playing both clubs and festivals. One day she hopes to have her own music club, but if that is going to keep her off the road then all fans of good vocal jazz should hope that the dream comes true later rather than sooner.

Sharing the stage with her tonight are some young men who are familiar faces on the European club and festival festival circuit as well as the Prague scene. Slovak pianist Tomáš Jochmann studied at the Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory, developing an interest in Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music. Versatile and creative, he specialises in providing skilled and sensitive accompaniment for singers, and has recently performed with Justin Echols, Sarah Tolar and Romina Capitani. Bassist Tomáš "Kaštan" Baroš studied at the Prague College of Music, and in 2004 received one of the prized and prestigious Berklee scholarships. With over 15 years of performances under his belt he is one of the most in-demand Czech bassists of his generation. His partner-in-rhythm is another Slovak, Majo Ševcik. He has recorded and performed with small groups and big bands across Europe, as well as working alongside Baroš with Ida Kelarova and her band Jazz Famelija. He has performed at jazz festivals all over Europe and taken part in Leroy Lowe’s workshops and Juraj Bartos’ Hot House projects. In 2008, he received the “Jazzman of the Year” award,from the Music Fund of Slovakia. Also joining the band is Jan Fečo, the young saxophonist who is rapidly making a name for himself and who is definitely someone to watch in the future.

Deborah Davis has performed for a President before (American-born Reduta sax legend William J Clinton) but tonight we offer a her special welcome to the Autoklub and the unique concert experience of Jazzová KLAUSura. Sit back, relax and enjoy, because this is her story...

Tickets for the concert are available at

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Jazzová KLAUSura 4 - Deczi & DePino

The fourth concert in this new series under the patronage of former President Václav Klaus featured Slovak-born trumpet maestro Laco Deczi and the latest formation of his Cellula New York band, bringing their electric mix of jazz, Latin funk and blues to the ordinarily more genteel surroundings of Prague's Autoklub. Just to make sure they got the place really rocking they also brought along Chris DePino - a chromatic harmonica player, singer and larger-than-life character - who would effectively front the band on this unique night of Deczi's extensive homeland tour.

It was encouraging to see the Autoklub floor packed and rows of faces peering down from the balcony on a night when competition came not only from the usual jazz clubs but also Wayne Shorter, who was playing down the road. With the lights down, audience seated and Mr Klaus occupying his usual front row centre position, Cellula New York (minus dePino) opened with "Plostica", a live favourite and typical of Deczi's writing and arranging; fast and intricate with flowing lines and Latin beats and the band very, very together. Michael Krásný's mastery of the six-string bass is one of the defining features of this current Cellula formation. A phenomenal young (and loud) player, his speedy fingers allow him to lead from the back and push the band through countless changes of direction.

It was starting to seem like the Krásný show when the second song opened with his new-agey played and sung solo, until it merged into the slower "Atlantic" and DePino joined the band. In an evening of frenzied instrumentals it was pleasing to hear Cellula occasionally playing a moody ballad rather than just setting off the fireworks, and they also dug out the jazz standard "Lover Man" for a few minutes of aesthetically immaculate reflection.

DePino brought with him not only his chromatic harmonica but also the showmanship and stage presence of an American performer, interacting with the audience and paying as much attention to balcony as the front rows. As a singer he delivered the meaty "American Blues" convincingly as well as showing his instrumental agility;  it is no small achievement for a harmonica player to handle the lines required by this demanding music and this demanding musician, Deczi.

Drummer Vaico Deczi (Laco's eldest son) was working overtime for most of the night, maintaining perfect precision while rattling through his father's high-speed originals, including the test of physical and mental stamina that is "Poison Bird". Together with Krásný and keyboardist Jan Aleš he created the pulsating Latin sound that got some of the ladies of the balcony dancing and rattled the windows of this intimate hall.

At first glance you'd expect 75 year old Laco Deczi to be knocking on the door asking for the noise to be turned down rather than being the key noisemaker himself. Showing little regard for the calendar he's still an excellent trumpeter, capable of playing big, fast music without a stumble. His new incarnation of Cellula, packed with young talent, has settled in and  buzzes with energy. Received with loud applause from the full house, this popular Jazzová KLAUSura concert proved this is a series that can bring electric entrainment as well as more traditional acoustic-oriented jazz to the refined music fans of Prague.

Many thanks to Chris DePino for his insight and thoughts on the concert and their setlist. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Brian Charette in Prague

NYC-based and Grammy Nominated organist and pianist Brian Charette will be visiting Prague in November. He has a full and exciting schedule, including playing at 2 CD launches and a big birthday gig at Jazz Dock. Go and see him if you can.

  • Nov 18 Jazz Dock (Praha) CD release w/ Ondřej Štveráček;
  • Nov 19 Jazz Dock (Praha) w/ Steve Walsh  
  • Nov 23 Jazz Dock (Praha) w/ Otto Hejnic
  • Nov 24 Jazz Dock (Praha) Music For Organ Sextette Birthday Show
  • Nov 25 Agharta (Praha) w/ Adam Tvrdý
  • Nov 26&27 Reduta (Praha) CD Release w/ Soul Mates
  • Nov 28-30 U Maleho Glenna (Praha) in Piano Trio w/ Martin Šulc

Monday, August 26, 2013

Jazzová KLAUSura 3 is coming

The third jazz concert hosted by the former president is on September 4th at the Autoklub. There is now an official website with details of past and future concerts, and a link to buy tickets - take a look at