Monday, June 29, 2009

Viklický / Wellins At AghaRTA

The last night of this CZ-GB mini-tour (28/6) was once again a delight to witness. Bass duties were taken over by Petr Dvorský but otherwise the outfit was the same as before: Emil Viklický, Bobby Wellins and Dave Wickens.

It was probably the tightest of the three performances, loaded with improvisation but always retaining melody and musicality. From the lyrical to the blistering they tore through such exciting material as Caravan (J. Tizol) and the gorgeous Monk's Mood (T. Monk). The lack of repetition over the three dates was truly impressive, with the outfit producing three very different shows.

It was a true privilege and pleasure to see these gentlemen making music together and it is to be hoped that Bobby and Dave pass this way again soon.

(Left to right: Dave Wickens, Bobby Wellins, Petr Dvorský, Emil Viklický, Tony Emmerson)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Photos: Viklický / Wellins At Wallenstein Garden

Summer rain interfered with proceedings at Wallenstein Garden yesterday (27/6) but the quartet still played for an hour to a damp but appreciative crowd.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Emil Viklický & Bobby Wellins

British sax legend Bobby Wellins (he of Stan Tracey's Under Milk Wood fame) is in town and playing with Emil in a short burst of concentrated coolness. They were at Reduta on 26/6, will be at the Wallenstein Garden at 6PM on 27/6, and also at AghaRTA Jazz Centrum on 28/6. They don't play together often but it is tight, exciting, fun and powerful. This is the cream of modern European jazz jamming together: real music by real musicians.

The full band comprises of Emil with with Bobby Wellins, Dave Wickens (drums), and his regular bassist František Uhlíř.

Pictures from Reduta (26/6):

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ondřej Pivec OQ Back From China

Ondřej and his ORGANIC Quartet have just returned from a successful trip to China where they played two gigs and took in the local sights. The band are now embarking upon a busy schedule of live and session work, including their recorded-for-DVD gig on July 16th.

Pictures courtesy of OPOQ's management.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Michal Prokop & Framus Five at United Islands (20/6)

The early afternoon rain didn't dampen spirits at the Czech Stage of the United Islands festival, although admittedly we were nicely sheltered in a big tent! PJ's highlight of the day was undoubtedly the set by Prokop and his Framus Five band. Incredibly three of the outfit (Luboš Andršt, Wimpy Tichota, Pavel Razím) had just stepped off a flight from Bucharest where the night before the Luboš Andršt Blues Band had been in action!

News: Bohemia Jazz Fest Information

The Bohemia Jazz Fest website has been updated with the full list of performers as well as performance times. This festival travels around the country, featuring different performers every night. The current dates are as follows: Prague (July 12th - 13th), Domažlice (July 14th), Pilsen (July 15th), Tábor (July 16th), Prachatice (July 17th), Telč (July 18th) and, České Budějovice (July 19th).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

News: Rudy Linka on Radio Prague

Rudy Linka, the Czech-born guitarist and driving force behind the Bohemia Jazz Fest is interviewed by Radio Prague. You can read or listen here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

News: The Wall 2009

Exciting news for Pink Floyd fans: There will be a recreation of Roger Waters's magnum opus performed at Prague's O2 Arena on 31st October, 2009!

And why mention this rock event on PJ? Because it is going to feature a huge chunk of Czech musical talent, spanning the genres and including some of our regularly mentioned artists. Rock / blues guitar legend Radim (Mr Blue Effect) Hladík will be playing, as will a rising star of the jazz saxophone, Petr Kalfus. One of our favourite (but sadly rarely seen) female vocalists, Lada Soukupová will also be there.

Full details of the show, the cast of thousands, and how to buy tickets can be found at

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Stan The Man on DVD

Stan "The Man" Wolarz, the guy with the longest running regular blues gig in Prague, has a DVD out. One Day In Denmark gives blues fans around the world the chance to marvel at his truly frightening guitar technique and hear his trademark gravelly vocals. Details and the chance to part with some cash can be found here.

If you want to try before you buy and get a free peek at Stan and his Bohemian Blues Band in action then check out his gallery.

Update 16/06/09: According to Stan the DVD is region-free, so visitors from far-flung places, please remember to buy one to remember your night in the company of this Prague blues legend!

Gig Review: Elena Sonenshine

Jazz Dock
5th June 2009

Elena Sonenshine is one of the big names of Czech vocal jazz, appearing regularly in this country and also on international stages. She studied at the Berklee College of Music and has established her reputation as a singer of quality and interest. It is always worth making the effort to catch her when she is in Prague – yet another opportunity to see world-class talent without having to wander too far away from our own front doors.

Of course a singer cannot do it all by themselves – a good band can make or break the evening. Elena takes to the stage with a strong outfit behind her: the band for this concert comprised of legendary Czech vibraphone player Radek Krampl, the excellent Petr Dvorský on acoustic bass, electric guitarist and arranger Mirek Linka, and the skilful Branko Križek on drums. Together they worked to create a range of sounds from the simple to the complex and from the gentle to the brutal.

The new Jazz Dock, with its unparalleled Vltava location and glass walls affording a clear view of the passing waters, was starting to fill up as the band kicked off at ten o’clock. Very much a late night hangout this club does suffer a bit from chatter and noise from the bar, but sitting near the front it was not too distracting. Also in the club’s favour is that the music comes through with a nice clear mix, not too loud but usually able to drown out the clink of glasses.

The selection of songs over the three sets was nicely balanced. The more commonplace material such as “Cry Me a River” (A. Hamilton) was well done with lively arrangements and, of course, excellent vocals. Sonenshine’s voice is powerful yet expressive, allowing the band room to play around without the risk of drowning her out. There were some cute touches along the way: “Dream a Little Dream of Me” (F. Andre, W Schwandt, G, Kahn) was done as a delicate multi-lingual vocal and guitar duet (the rest of the band obediently stood at the bar, the audience obediently listened) while "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby" (L. Jordan) was emphatic fun with the crowd invited to sit in on finger clicks.

Lead lines were usually taken by either Linka on guitar or Krampl on vibes. The latter, wielding four mallets and throwing his arms at his instrument, coupled frantic solos with rhythmic chimes. He was nice and high in the mix, putting some real meat into his sound, and his work often drew admiring applause. Linka also got his fair share of the spotlight, alternating between harder solos and more atmospheric strumming and washes of sound.

There was some original material on the setlist including the effective and well-received “I've got Completely Lost In You”, featuring some classy work by Dvorský. Enthusiastic and versatile, as well as extremely talented, it is always a pleasure to watch him play.

It was however the more unusual material that made this gig really stand out, making the night interesting as well as musically satisfying. “Slow Hot Wind” (H. Mancini, N. Gimbel) was as sultry as it sounds, whereas “Save Your Love For Me” (B. Johnson) hit more of a funky tone. The standout piece, and certainly the one that really wowed the crowd, was a barnstorming “You And The Night And The Music” (A. Schwartz, H. Dietz). Starting off slow and stately, beats marked out by bass and drums, it rose into a monstrous clattering crescendo that filled the room with a sheer wall of sound. From there it fell away, back into a dark groove, before ending with some spectacular work from the previously understated Križek.

All through the concert Elena bantered with the crowd, both in English and in Czech. It made the tourists and foreigners feel welcome but also retained the feeling that this was a Czech concert in a Czech venue. When the band left the stage for the last time (at one o'clock on Saturday morning) a representative from a group of unusually attentive Americans begged for an encore. When a band plays into tomorrow and the crowd still want more they should know that they have done something right.

This was a good concert, and a lot more enjoyable and interesting than the work of some of the really big global names in female vocal jazz. The music was consistently exciting, never drifting into mere anodyne accompaniment. Elena, the star of the show, is a fine singer with a strong and expressive voice and who feels and interprets the songs with skill, passion, and good taste. Do go along and see them if you have the chance.

Prague Jazz - World Stage

Once again the stars of the Prague Jazz world are globetrotting in the name of music.

The Robert Balzar Trio have just completed five nights in New York City, helping to highlight the soon-to-end Czech presidency of the EU. Meanwhile the Ondřej Pivec ORGANIC Quartet are packing their bags for Beijing where they will be performing for one night at the Czech embassy and then the following night at a Beijing jazz club!

The Luboš Andršt Blues Band website has been updated with pictures from their recent concert in Hong Kong - you can check them out here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

News: Ondřej Pivec / Joel Frahm / Bucinatores Orchestra

Hot news from Ondřej's manager: On 16/7 there will be a unique jazz concert at Prague's Theater Disk (Karlova 26, Prague 1), featuring Ondřej's own ORGANIC Quartet, famous New York saxophonist Joel Frahm, and the Czech brass ensemble Bucinatores Orchestra. The show is going to be recorded for DVD release.

Advance tickets are available from

Sunday, June 7, 2009

News: Iva Bittová in London

Czech Singer and violinist Iva Bittová will be appearing at the Pulse Festival in London on 10/6. Details can be found at

Club Guide Updated

The PJ guide to Prague's jazz clubs has been updated to include the new Jazz Dock. You can find the guide here.

If you have visited any of the clubs mentioned please feel free to leave a comment or contact PJHQ with your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

News: Emil Viklický / Geroge Mraz Album

The new Emil Viklický album featuring George Mraz and Lewis Nash is one step nearer with the mixing now finished. The album should be available soon from Venus Records. Having heard a snippet of the music there is every reason to be excited by this release. Having had a peek at the Venus website we are also looking forward to the album cover.

GigTips: June 2009

With the Prague summer there usually comes a glut of outdoor concerts and festivals. Dotted around the Czech Republic they seem to cover the entire spectrum of musical tastes, including of course jazz.

The United Islands (19, 20/6) festival is one of Prague’s biggest, taking place in a number of different locations around the city. On the Friday (19/6) you can catch the jazz part of the festival at Jazz Dock where both the Marcel Flemr Band and Ondřej Konrád & Gumbo will be playing. There will also be a jam session afterwards.

On the Saturday (20/6) the jazz moves to Kampa where a whole host of Czech and international outfits will be performing. Kampa is a beautiful place in the summer sunshine and, weather permitting, this should be a perfect place to spend the day. The only problem with being there is that you will not be able to marvel at the guitar genius of Luboš Andršt: he will be appearing with Michal Prokop on the Žofín stage.

If you want even more festival jazz then the Saturday will continue back at Jazz Dock with acts that include the lovely (and vocally excellent) Veronika Diamant.

More details can be found at

There do seem to be a lot of interesting things happening at Jazz Dock. Prague Jazz has yet to visit this club but will be doing so this Friday, so do come back next week for more information. On (10/6) acclaimed pianist Najponk will be playing there with his Trio, apparently making a return to active service on the Prague scene.

The fun and frantic Rhythm Desperados will once again be at AghaRTA Jazz Centrum this month (23, 24/6). Mixing hot playing with bouncy fun these guys are well worth seeing.

Finally, if you are going to splash the cash required to go to Reduta (and heaven forbid that you buy a drink there!), then you might as well go and see something special. Emil Viklický will be there (26/6) with Bobby Wellins, Dave Wickens and his regular bassist František Uhlíř. We hardly ever advocate going to Reduta, but for this one night we cannot advocate being anywhere else!

Remember to reserve places in advance if you want to be sure of a good seat, and do please tell the venue that you saw the gig recommended here on Prague Jazz.