Thomas Zaruba, author of the best-selling jazz album Slow Down, is a pianist of Australian-Canadian-Czech origin living in France. Although he was born into a cosmopolitan family of musicians and started playing the piano at the age of two, he opted for a career in advertising and it was a tragic incident that made him turn his life around and devote himself exclusively to music. When Thomas visited Radio Prague this week I asked him what had prompted him to drop everything and pursue his life’s passion.
Ondřej Pivec plays organ with one of the biggest stars in world jazz, singer Gregory Porter. This makes Pivec, who is in his mid-30s, perhaps the most successful non-classical Czech musician of his generation. When we met at a café in his Brooklyn neighbourhood, the conversation took in his struggles to establish himself in New York, the specific nature of performing in churches and his live baptism of fire with Porter. But first Ondřej Pivec explained how a stay of several months in the Big Apple 10 years ago turned into a long-term move that tranformed
Steamboat Stompers are one of the legends of the traditional Czech jazz scene. The Prague Dixieland band was established 50 years ago, in 1968. Steamboat Stompers have captured audiences with a distinct music style, which was defined by the late founder and band leader Jiří Kadlus. After his death two years ago he was replaced by trombone player Pavel Janík.
Drew Petersen is a prodigious pianist who is the winner of this year’s American Pianists Award. He is pursuing a Masters at the Julliard School of Music and recently completed a tour of the Czech Republic as part of the American Spring music festival. He and the president of APA, Joel Harrison, stopped by Czech Radio as the concert tour wrapped up, to discuss the American Spring and much more.
The Czech Republic does not have a stellar track record when it comes to the Eurovision Song Contest: the country fielded entries for three years straight from 2007 to 2009, but then withdrew until 2015. In all, all but one in five entries failed to make it to the final. This Tuesday, jazz singer Martina Bárta will be hoping to change things, however with My Turn.
Jana Koubková is one of the country’s most versatile artists – first and foremost a Czech jazz singer, she moves effortlessly among blues and swing, through mainstream, bebop, jazz-rock, free jazz, ethno and fusion. Her latest CD –I Just Keep Walking – is a collection of twelve songs across different genres.
David Dorůžka is one of the Czech Republic’s best jazz musicians. The guitarist studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and later spent time in New York and Paris. A few months ago he released his latest album, Autumn Tales. Our tour of “David Dorůžka’s Prague” begins at the Branické skály, a rocky outcrop overlooking the Vltava close to where the 37-year-old was raised in a musical household: his grandfather was the jazz expert and writer Lubomír Dorůžka, while his father Petr is a well-known music journalist.
Czech organist and jazz musician Ondřej Pivec features on this year’s Grammy Award-winning album Take Me to the Alley by Gregory Porter. The Czech musician, who currently works and resides in New York, has recorded five albums under his own name and appeared on more than thirty as an accompanist. He currently leads an r&b-jazz-pop band called Kennedy Administration and plays the organ in a gospel church choir in Brooklyn.