English saxophonist George Haslam and the Czech jazz quartet Freetime have been playing together, on and off, for the last few years. This weekend they are the main attraction at Prague's first Free Jazz Festival, which is taking place at several venues in the city. On the eve of the festival I spoke to George Haslam about Czech jazz audiences, venues - and artists.
This Sunday, October 24th, the 28th Prague International Jazz Festival will kick off in the Czech capital at the city's famous Reduta club. This year's festival, also taking place at Lucerna Palace, will see performances by world-class performers: we spoke with Ivo Letov, the artistic director at Pragoconcert, to ask about this year's line up.
Josef Skvorecky, author of many internationally acclaimed novels such as The Bass Saxophone, The Engineer of Human Souls and The Miracle Game, is one of the country's most renowned twentieth century writers. In this week's Arts, we'll hear about his love for jazz, his experiences in Communist Czechoslovakia, and why he thinks foreign readers can identify with his work.
Thousands of people went to Prague's Vystaviste Hall on Saturday night to be at the first ever Prague appearance of the legendary James Brown. The 71-year-old soul and funk performer entertained the crowd for two and a half hours with hits like Sex Machine, Try Me, I Got the Feeling, and I Feel Good. To commemorate the victims of the Beslan school massacre in Russia, he stopped the show in the middle of It's a Man's World and called for a minute of silence.
Jaroslav Jezek is one of the legends of Czech 20th century music. His jazz composition "Dark Blue World" lent its name to a film, released in 2001, about Czech pilots serving in Britain's Royal Air Force during the Second World War. The film powerfully evokes the atmosphere of the time, thanks not least to Jaroslav Jezek's music on the soundtrack.
A woman sighs, moans, and cries out with delight - this isn't the soundtrack from a late-night movie, but one of the works in a classical music concert. It's a composition from 1919 by one of the masters of the inter-war avant-garde in Czechoslovakia, Erwin Schulhoff, and it's called the Erotic Sonata, a solo for what the composer described as a "mother-trumpet" - in fact a single female voice, a work with a fascinating score of scribbles, lines and dots.
Our guest in today's Arts is young Czech jazz guitarist David Doruzka. Born in 1980, David started performing regularly at the age of fourteen. Ten years ago he received the "Best Talent of the Year" award from the Czech Jazz Society and in the following years he performed with leading musicians on the Czech jazz scene. In 1999 David Doruzka went to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music. Last June he recorded his first CD, called "Hidden Paths" in the United States. It was officially released here in the Czech Republic on Tuesday. When David Doruzka
When Josephine Baker died in Paris in 1975, over twenty thousand people lined the city streets to watch her funeral procession. She is remembered as one of the great performers of all time, overcoming poverty and racial discrimination in the American south to become a legend in her lifetime. In the 1920s her shows in her adopted Paris combined song, dance and humour and took the city by storm, with an overt sensuality that for the time was almost revolutionary. During the Second World War she worked with the French Resistance, proving that her
The Czech singer Ondrej Havelka and his group the Melody Makers do faithful and charming versions of jazz and popular songs from the 1920s and 30s. They are currently touring the Czech Republic. This week they played at Prague's magnificent Lucerna Hall, part of a complex which was designed by Vaclav Havel's grandfather and completed in 1921. When I spoke to Ondrej Havelka in a café in Lucerna just before Wednesday's concert he told me it was one of his favourite venues.