19. 5. 2023
Singer and pianist Diana Krall confirmed during her JazzFest premiere in 2017 that she can create the atmosphere of a spontaneous and immediate party even in a sports hall. Now she is returning to Brno and we can look forward to an even more intense concert experience at the Bobycentrum.
With her early bop piano style and elegant, sultry vocals, Diana Krall hit the jazz world like a hurricane in the second half of the 1990s. A world that was then dominated by the Young Lions, the group supported by the labels of audio industry which was thriving at that time. Since those halcyon days, Diana Krall has moved on not only as a performer but also as a writer, and today no one can deny that, alongside her instrumental skills and mesmerising voice, she is not lacking the attributes of a genuine and fascinating songwriter. She has been nominated for ten Grammy Awards since 1996, twice turning nominations into wins, and in 2009 the prestigious Billboard magazine named her the second most important jazz personality of the first decade of the current millennium.
Critics and fans admire Krall for a long time. This is confirmed, among other things, by more than twenty million records sold worldwide as well as two million regular listeners on Spotify. Even after thirty years of a professional career, Diana Krall is not resting on her laurels. Since her last visit to Brno, she has released two albums. She recorded Love Is Here to Stay together with Tony Bennett and together they earned a Grammy nomination. Her latest album This Dream of You marks the culmination of her artistic journey with producer Tommy LiPuma. After his departure into musical heaven, three dozen unreleased Diana Krall tracks remained in the studio. The Canadian jazz diva selected the ten best of them and proved that her artistic standard is still set pretty damn high.
Titular partner of this event is Czech TV.
Diana Krall – piano, vocals, Robert Hurst – bass, Karriem Riggins – drums, Anthony Wilson – guitar
The Syncopation Festival
25. 6. 2023
CED – Divadlo Husa na provázku
One summer evening, one place, three stages, and on them a continuous flow of the most interesting music of the Czech-Slovak jazz scene. That’s what The Syncopation Festival is all about, where the second edition will feature, among others, the jubilant Peter Lipa, but also the Ochepovsky Project or the Tomáš Sýkora Trio & Aid Kid.
A syncope in music is a rhythmic-metric formation that embellishes the regular progression of a musical phrase, say the blueprints of music theory. Syncope is also the medical term for an episode of brief disturbance of consciousness. The two definitions intersect in jazz music – syncope, along with swing, has been a hallmark of jazz since its earliest forms, and a brief loss of consciousness can be brought on by the trance-like state you can experience both when making and consuming music. Our Syncopation Festival is a festival within a festival that focuses on the domestic scene and its international collaborations. Thus, every year we offer the best of local jazz and related genres on three stages at the Husa na provázku Theatre.
Peter Lipa 80
Tomáš Sýkora Trio & Aid Kid
Post Noisy Pots
Petr Nohavica: Glance
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
feat. Akiko Tsuruga & Dan Bárta
12. 10. 2023
World big band and Czech singer on one stage? One of the most important contemporary jazz ensembles will present its Brno premiere – with Dan Bárta by its side.
The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra has had an impressive thirty-five years career on the scene. The orchestra was put together in the mid-1980s by brothers Jeff (saxophone) and John (bass) Clayton along with Jeff Hamilton (drums). Even after the recent departure of Jeff Clayton to jazz heaven, CHJO sets the tone for the contemporary big band sound. After all, when the trio recruited the first members of the ensemble, they already stated the credo that besides technical instrumental proficiency and improvisational ability, the main criterion for selection must be dedication. “The motivation must be love for music and for your musical family. And anyone who thinks it’s just about the concert itself need not apply,” said the orchestra’s founders. Of course, nothing has changed so far about that. The band excels beyond measure in its varied repertoire, to which the ensemble members themselves make numerous contributions with original compositions. It has grown and continues to grow in other unsuspected directions, for example, thanks to its collaboration with filmmakers or stars like Charles Aznavour or Diana Krall.
Another recipe for success is frequent collaboration with distinctive soloists. At the instigation of JazzFest Brno, the eclectic singer Dan Bárta will have the honour to stand alongside one of the most renowned big bands in the world, for whom John Clayton is exclusively arranging several songs. These will be performed with a full orchestra as well as a more intimate ensemble. Japanese organist Akiko Tsuruga will also spice up the concert with their skills. In short, an evening full of surprises, where only swinging yet sophisticated music remains the unshakable constant.
Dave Holland Trio
7. 3. 2023
+ Jam session, Music Lab 21:21
Jazz legend Dave Holland can impress in many ways – in a solo double bass recital, as the engine of a jazz combo and with the sophisticated arrangements of his original big band. For his Brno premiere, he has chosen a trio with his favourite long-time bandmates Eric Harland and Kevin Eubanks.
He was plucked from the UK by Miles Davis in the middle of an engagement at the famous Ronnie Scott’s club, where Dave Holland sharpened his jazz spurs as a “house bassist” in the late 1960s, and soon became a part of jazz history for the first time. He recorded three immortal classics with Davis, Filles de Kilimanjaro, In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. His influence on history of jazz has been described many times, Holland proved his exceptionality both as a collaborator and as a bandleader. Indeed, Holland soon discovered that in addition to his ability to work in the service of musical visionaries of the calibre of Davis, Henderson, Hancock, Corey, Brecker, Metheny and Braxton, he also had a gift as a bandleader. In 1972, he recorded his Quartet for ECM, which has appeared in many personnel changes throughout Holland’s career. He could also metamorphose himself as a member of a quintet or an entire big band, always with enviable line-up. The most contemporary version of Holland’s home band takes the form of a jazz triangle, with guitarist Kevin Eubanks and drummer Eric Harland occupying the tops alongside the leader himself.
Holland’s role as a bandleader blends naturally with his role as a composer, his prolificacy is breath-taking. He has again written the core of the repertoire for the current trio, but Eubanks, who has made significant compositional contributions before, for example on the Holland Quartet’s fantastic Extensions album from the late 1980s and early 1990s, has written some compositions too. For Eubanks, in fact, this trio is a bit of a homecoming after he spent fifteen years as bandleader on NBC’s famous The Tonight Show and, after leaving that engagement in 2010, performed primarily with his own band.
Dave Holland has a nose for teammates. Which is not surprising, since he has been a disciple of the greatest master, Miles Davis. In the company of Eubanks and Harland, he brings to mind, among others, his style-making guitar trio Gateway with John Abercrombie and Jack DeJohnette.
Dave Holland – double bass, Kevin Eubanks – guitar, Eric Harland – drums
John Scofield: Yankee Go Home
9. 3. 2023
Years ago, guitarist John Scofield literally rocked the sold-out Sono Center with his covers of the biggest country hits. Now, he returns to the scene with a fresh repertoire that consists of the familiar songs of his youth.
An artist who can play more than one style of music with real fluency, virtuosity and sincerity is a very rare breed today. A look into Scofield’s discography is staggering, his stylistic range is incredible. Judge for yourself: mainstream, jazz-rock period, he is also well known and highly regarded for his playing in Miles Davis’ band in the early 80s. Equally high are the collaborations with Joe Henderson, Joe Lovano, the catchy big band album Quiet with Wayne Shorter, the jazzy hits with Herbie Hancock’s The New Standard project, interpretations of Ray Charles songs, excursions into the world of gospel with the Piety Street Band, and the aforementioned Country for Old Men, with which he visited JazzFestBrno in 2016 to show fans what can be done with often simple country songs.
The latest addition to Scofield’s unusually diverse portfolio is a project called Yankee Go Home. “The title is a bit of a pun for me, that we ˈYankeesˈ are taking over the music of our homeland. This band plays Roots-Rock-Jazz, which is one way of defining it, although, if I’m honest, I don’t like doing it!” says the three-time Grammy Award winner. Yankee Go Home’s concept is to cover americana and rock hits and jazzed-up folk songs, which complement a selection of Scofield’s original compositions written in that vein. Scofield reconnects with his teenage rock ‘n’ roll roots, which he naturally leavens with his 50 years of jazz experience. Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, the Grateful Dead, Sting and Leonard Bernstein are just a glimpse of Scofield’s inspirational sources. The band is made up of Jon Cowherd, keyboardist Cassandra Wilson, bassist Vicente Archer, known for his work with Robert Glasper, and drummer Josh Dion, among others. “These guys are remarkably versatile, just as good as it gets when it comes to interactive, creative playing. We explore rock, funk, country and jazz and have a fantastic time doing it,” Scofield adds.
John Scofiled – guitar, Jon Cowherd – piano, Vicente Archer – double bass, Josh Dion – drums
Tigran Hamasyan Trio
24. 3. 2023
+ Jam session, Music Lab 21:21
Pianist Tigran Hamasyan spent formative years on the Los Angeles and New York scenes, but he has never denied his Armenian roots in his music. On the contrary. Now, for the first time ever, he takes on the iconic songs of the Great American Songbook, and he does so without awe or exaggerated respect.
Hamasyan is a unique figure among pianists. He excels at bringing sophisticated and challenging music to a wider audience. “I compose and play what comes from my heart – that seems to be the trick,” explains the pianist himself, who as a toddler tended to play with tape recorders or a piano instead of the usual children’s toys. After all, even at the age of three he was already looking for ways to play Beatles, Louis Armstrong, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple or Queen songs on the piano. When he was 16, his family moved to the United States, where Hamasyan soon won a number of piano competitions, including the top prize in the Monk Competition. A trophy all the more valuable because the jury was chaired by Herbie Hancock. From then on, Hamasyan’s professional career began to take shape, during which he has already released ten albums.
The latest one, released in 2022, is called StandArt and features arrangements of songs from the Great American Songbook performed by the Hamasyan Trio, which also includes bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Justin Brown. “If there’s any downside to the new versions of songs from the Great American Songbook that vocalists and jazz instrumentalists release every year, it’s the shared sense that the songs are sacred. It’s as if everyone who handles Laura or Body and Soul has signed a non-aggression pact and promised to only tread lightly among the basic building blocks of these songs,” says Hamasyan. What’s happening at StandArt is the exact opposite. Familiar melodies just bubble up subtly while every other aspect of the music undergoes vivid and surprising transformations. Hamasyan approaches these songs as an exercise in theme and variation. He balances pre-prepared surfaces with the moment-to-moment spontaneity of improvisation, and the result is new ways of hearing old melodies. The restless Hamasyan, who in the past decade has released recordings that collide wistful folk melodies with dense heavy metal thunder, is simply not interested in parroting the old language. A nimble thinker, he loves the standard repertoire – but not its standard treatment. He looks for something special in it and creates his own world.
Tigran Hamasyan – piano, Jeremy Bruyère – double bass, Jonathan Pinson – drums
Melissa Aldana Quartet
26. 3. 2023
Cabaret des Péchés
The Noble-Slavík-Clarvis Trio plays purely acoustic music that draws deeply from the jazz tradition and playing styles of the past. However, it creatively transforms them into a contemporary form and at the same time points to the possible future development of this genre.
The trio brings together the Czech double bassist Jiří Slavík and two musicians from the UK, both a generation older than him, the leading English jazz pianist Liam Noble and Abbey Road percussionist Paul Clarvis. The collaborative recordings of this acclaimed duo have been a major influence on Slavík since he first met them as a student at London’s Royal Academy of Music. Noble and Clarvis have played together in various formations and are also very fond of meeting as a duo to sail through pop, classical and jazz repertoire together with an easy, detached view and grace. Both musicians always manage to play with dynamics and enjoy making music together.
Liam Noble – piano, Jiri Slavík – double bass, Paul Clarvis – drums
Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and the centuries-old tradition of tarot cards. Saxophonist Melissa Aldana’s two strongest sources of inspiration are indeed different, but both led to a Grammy nomination for Best Improvised Jazz Solo. The career of the South American señorita is thus in full swing.
Melissa Aldana was born in Santiago, Chile, and grew up in a musical family. Her father and grandfather both played the saxophone, and she followed in their footsteps when she was just six years old. At age 24, she became the first instrumentalist and the first South American musician to win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, later graduating from the renowned Berklee College. In 2019, she released the successful album Visions, inspired by Frida Kahlo. Aldana has drawn a parallel between her experience as a saxophone player in a predominantly male community and Frida’s experience as a female visual artist trying to make it in a field that was also dominated by men.
Her unique talent didn’t go unnoticed by Blue Note scouts, and last year’s album called 12 Stars was released under the wing of the iconic label. The album deals with themes of child upbringing, family forgiveness, acceptance, and self-love. Just before the pandemic broke out, Aldana went through personal problems with the end of a relationship. “Then the pandemic hit and I hit rock bottom. I needed to make a change, so I turned inward. I realized that the same process that was happening in my life was happening in my music. I realized that accepting everything, even mistakes, is more meaningful than perfection,” Aldana looks back. It was during this period that she became interested in the history and culture of tarot. “As I studied the cards, I began to write music about each of them separately. I discovered that tarot actually described a process that we all go through during our journey here on earth.” We can’t wait to see what musical cards the talented composer and saxophonist will lay out for us at her Brno premiere.
Melissa Aldana – saxophone, Lage Lund – guitar, Pablo Menares – double bass, Kush Abadey – drums
Emmet Cohen Trio
28. 3. 2023
Cabaret des Péchés
+ Jam session, Music Lab 21:21
Pianist Emmet Cohen has welcomed dozens of musicians and millions of people to his New York apartment over the years. His Live from Emmet’s Place series has become the most-watched regular online jazz show in the world. Now we can finally enjoy his music personally and not digitally.
Emmet Cohen is one of the key musical figures of his generation. He studied jazz piano at the Manhattan School of Music and the University of Miami and won numerous piano competitions at a young age. He soon began collaborating with many important musicians in New York, including Ron Carter, Christian McBride and Kurt Elling. When the pandemic struck, Cohen was one of the fastest artists to respond to its impacts. He began holding weekly concerts in his apartment called Live from Emmet’s Place. The live broadcasts garnered over 100,000 regular viewers worldwide. “This period gave me the space to explore collaborations with a wide range of musicians that I never dreamed it could be possible to collaborate with. Through this experience I have learned a lot about myself and with my trio I have discovered what makes some moments special. I have been inspired by the myriad of musicians who have helped us develop our concept and reach a deeper meaning in our art,” Cohen reflects. He imprinted the experiences and impressions into his debut album Future Stride, which he followed up last year with Uptown in Orbit. On it, he once again lets his phenomenal technique shine through and proves that he can handle any style with his trio. He visits the songs of Gerry Mulligan, Duke Ellington and others with a unique flair, carefully following the idiomatic natured of each while subtly adding something of his own. Cohen’s originals are certainly there as well.
Whether you consume tea or a beverage with a splash of alcohol during the concert, you can be sure that Emmet Cohen will provide a unique experience. The Cabaret des Péchés is actually just a slightly larger living room, and it’s exactly the kind of environment that makes Cohen feel just right, like a fish in water.
Emmet Cohen – piano, Philip Norris – double bass, Kyle Poole – drums
Kurt Rosenwinkel Quartet
30. 3. 2023
Cabaret des Péchés
Kurt Rosenwinkel’s reputation precedes him as a guitarist who can say more in a few lines of music than many musicians can in an entire career. The tireless explorer, whose projects range from solo to orchestral, will be in Brno this time with his star-studded quartet.
The Philadelphia native attended Berklee College for two and a half years in his early teens, only to quit it in the late 1980s because of the chance to tour with legendary vibraphonist, composer and educator Gary Burton, then the school’s dean. Now, after more than three decades on the scene, he is unquestionably one of the most prominent figures on the jazz scene. He has gained international recognition thanks, among other things, to his personality. Rosenwinkel does not follow trends and makes his own music. His harmonically rich, rhythmically free and unprecedentedly fluid style combined with his pioneering sound concept of the guitar have changed the way this instrument is perceived and played. From his nearly twenty studio albums, you can hear songs heavily influenced by the jazz tradition, as well as electronica with programmed beats, hip hop as well as caipirinha. This is the name of the genre Rosenwinkel himself invented for his blend of South American rhythms, jazz, rock and pop, which he performed at JazzFestBrno for the last time.
For his Brno performance this year, he has chosen a quartet format featuring his old friends – pianist Aaron Parks, double bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. The band performs gems from Rosenwinkel’s rich compositional history, but at the same time has a considerable number of new compositions of its own in its repertoire. “I think the key to listening to our music may be the idea of landscape. We wander through valleys and forests, constantly discovering more breath-taking views and experiencing unique sensations. It’s a bit like when we looked up to the heavens on the cosmic Star of Jupiter ten years ago, only we’ve brought the concept to the terrestrial realm, because there’s still a lot to discover here too,” Rosenwinkel adds.
Kurt Rosenwinkel – guitar, Aaron Parks – piano, Doug Weiss – double bass, Gregory Hutchinson – drums
Udi Shlomo Quintet
Poogie Bell – Juraj Griglak Band
20. 4. 2023
Cabaret des Péchés
Drummer and composer Udi Shlomo was born in Israel, his family roots also go back to Iraq, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Shlomo takes memories, images and stories from his life and experiences in Norway, where he has lived for over a decade, and sets them to music. The result is music that could be described as World Jazz.
Shlomo started drumming at the age of five and soon embarked on formal music education at Yadharif Conservatory – Regional Centre for Arts. In later years he continued his studies at the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music. After a successful ten-year jazz career in Israel, where he played with many leading musicians and representatives of other disciplines of the arts from around the world, he moved to Norway where he began to write his own musical story. His debut solo album Diaspora House, released in 2021, is brimming with memories and experiences from his childhood as well as references to Hebrew music. But he complements all of this with experiences of living in Norway, seemingly disconnected from his roots. He combines the diverse sound of Ashkenazi (Eastern European), Sephardic (Spanish) and Mizrachi (Arab) Jewish music in new arrangements. With his band, he brings a very unconventional view of the coexistence of different cultures on this recording. Some of Shlomo’s compositions will put you in a state of deep meditation, while others invite you to dance unrestrainedly. In short, an album as colourful as the world itself. If we then focus on the bandleader himself when listening to this quintet, at times it may seem that his ability to create so many sounds and rhythmic layers with just four limbs is a bit of a mystery.
In March of this year, Shlomo released his second original album, You & Me. On it too, he takes on the persona of a distinctive guide, leading the listener through a diverse world. The excellent percussion, original compositions and energetic interplay of the whole quintet will transport you from the centre of Europe to the most diverse corners of our planet.
Udi Shlomo – drums, Omri Abramov – saxophone, Oscar Andreas Haug – trumpet, Moshe Elmakias – piano, Andreas Svabø – double bass
One of the most important jazz personalities in Slovakia, double bassist and bass-guitarist Juraj Griglák, meets again with the drumming legend Poogie Bell to serve the audience an unmistakable mix of jazz, soul and funk.
Poogie Bell is a genuine funk master, one of the best contemporary drummers and studio players regardless of genre. But his heart beats a little bit more especially for jazz, funk, soul and R&B. In addition to his solo work, which is recorded on five albums, he has also become renowned as a reliable studio and touring partner for notable musical personalities, like David Bowie, Stanley Clarke, Erykah Badu, All Jarreau, David Sanborn, John Scofield, Victor Wooten, Chaka Khan, Angelique Kidjo and Marcus Miller, among others, owing their perfect rhythmic groove to his own recordings. Bell has spent the bulk of his career touring with the latter and has appeared on more than ten of his albums.
Juraj Griglák has been a member of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra since 1991. He has worked with many top musicians such as Ron Affif, Frank McComb, Bobby Sparks, Patches Stewart, Greg Hopkins and Gary Husband. He first stood alongside Poogie Bell in 2012 when the drummer invited him to join his band on a European tour. It was the beginning of an artistically fruitful collaboration. Over the next ten years, Griglák toured Europe several times, and Bell in turn recorded drums on three of Griglák’s albums. Visitors to the JazzFestBrno festival in 2017 also got a chance to appreciate their harmony. Even then, Griglák showed his virtuosity and Bell, in addition to his dense kick drum, also showed his ability to resist the temptation to perform drum solos. Bell and Griglák can build up their concerts together in an unprecedented way. After six years, they return to Brno with different bandmates and a new repertoire, but the unique chemistry of the Bell-Griglák relationship remains a constant.
Poogie Bell – drums, Juraj Griglak – bass guitar, Winston Bell – saxophone, Michal Cálik – trumpet, Eugen Vizváry – keyboard
Concert of the JAMU Jazz Department
26. 4. 2023
Divadlo na Orlí
+ Jam session, Music Lab 22:22
The Jazz Department of the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts has been boasting not only an excellent teaching staff for over a decade, but above all, talented students. They are also given a platform during the traditional festival concert.
Jazz improvisation at the JAMU Faculty of Music represents the first open course of its kind at a domestic academy. Jazz education does not have a very long tradition in Europe, but it is undergoing the most dynamic and turbulent changes in approach. The pioneer of jazz education in the Czech Republic is the Department of Jazz at the JAMU in Brno. Within the country it offers the widest range of disciplines, now completely without instrumental limitations. Personalities of the Czech and Slovak jazz scene, including David Dorůžka, Lubomír Šrámek, Jiří Slavík, Jiří Levíček, Cyrille Oswald, Marián Ševčík, Jan Jirucha, Juraj Bartoš and Matúš Jakabčic, pass on their experience to students. Jakabčic confessed some time ago: “A great team of teachers has gathered at the JAMU Jazz Department. I would immediately go to some of them to study the segment of jazz that they know better than I do. If I had such opportunities at the age of our students, I would be happy. JAMU is one of my loves.”
Several bands will perform during the department’s eighth showcase concert of the festival. The unacquainted listener might think of an anonymous student make-shift band, but in fact these are mature jazz ensembles often presenting original music by their members.
Kurt Elling feat. Charlie Hunter: SuperBlue
2. 5. 2023
Bassist, singer and songwriter Chris Morrissey lets his love of jazz shine throughout his work, while at the same time letting catchy melodies and rhythmic sensibilities of the pop rock world penetrate it. To some, these two galaxies may seem too far apart, but Morrissey brings them together in a perfectly balanced yin and yang.
The Minneapolis native, who moved to New York in 2009, is a true misfit living a bit of a double musical life. He’s been in indie rock and pop bands, touring the world with global superstar Norah Jones, while also devoting every spare moment to his own work. His jazz-infused sense of harmonic structure is evident in this work, but he also approaches song writing with an openness and a considerable amount of abstraction. When playing, he often takes unexpected musical trips to places filled with lions. In such a composition he can tell a compelling story composed of achingly beautiful mournful harmonies and melodies as well as dark and dense sounds. When he then adds vocals, his words are not merely a message, but rather another instrument that adds colourful tones full of emotion. You can’t be really surprised that his musical paths intersect with artists like Mark Guiliana and Chris Thile.
He will be visiting JazzFestBrno with a cross-section of his extensive repertoire from five albums as well as fresh new material, which he is preparing to release on another album later this year. The first previews already suggest that we can once again look forward to transitions from minimalist instrumentation to the use of the entire instrumental palette. In short, Chris Morrissey is casually and unobtrusively opening the space for one of the possible paths that jazz-influenced music could take in the future.
Chris Morrissey – bass guitar, vocals, Charlotte Greve – saxophone, vocals, Marco Bolfelli – guitar, Bill Campbell – drums
Kurt Elling is one of the few whose voice you can recognize in a second. His rich baritone moves gracefully through a four-octave range and cuts right through to the listener’s bones. Moreover, Elling wields it like a virtuoso improviser and compelling storyteller.
The Chicago native has been at the forefront of the jazz scene for more than two decades thanks to his artistic courage, dynamism, and originality. Elling’s success is exponentially increased by the fact that he is constantly creating new vocal material. He does this by, among other things, writing distinctive lyrics to well-known tunes composed by jazz figures such as John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul. He also performs publicly a lot. He co-created a multi-disciplinary show for Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, and has presented his own jazz musical, The Big Blind, at Jazz at Lincoln Center, again masterfully blending poetry and music.
Elling will visit Brno with his band SuperBlue, with which he recorded an album of the same name two years ago, full of infectious beats, raucous funk and distinctive lyrics. Guitarist Charlie Hunter was a major contributor to the recording, and he also took on the role of co-producer. The SuperBlue project was created in the times of pandemic. The repertoire was born within 1000 miles due to the quarantine. “Charlie and I planted the seeds of the project before the pandemic, but then we were both trapped at home. But the time we gained through this specific period turned into an imaginary greenhouse for the growth of something new. Eventually the seeds burst and grew into this crazy, strange, covid flower,” Elling lyrically describes. The writing process gave Elling the opportunity to revisit several of his now-familiar passions, such as the Beat generation, contemporary politics, and blending original contemplative poetry into existing immortal ballads. All while enveloping it with the fresh energy of contemporary jazz-funk fusion.
Kurt Elling – vocals, Charlie Hunter – guitar, Kenny Banks Jr. – keyboards, Marcus Finnie – drums
Simon Phillips: Protocol V
4. 5. 2023
Jazz. Rock. Jazz-rock. Sophisticated pop. For over four decades, legendary drummer Simon Phillips has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to excel in a variety of musical settings. Three words best describe his sound: precision, intensity, emotion.
Even in his twenties, Simon worked with iconic figures such as Jeff Beck, Jack Bruce, Pete Townshend, Mike Oldfield and Brian Eno. And with artists who were important pioneers of jazz rock in the 1970s, including Al Di Meola, Jon Anderson, Jan Hammer and Stanley Clarke. Phillips has also played with iconic bands such as The Who, Judas Priest and Tears for Fears, but is most closely associated with the equally famous Toto. Phillips played with this rock band, which also won a Grammy for Best Record in the main category, for more than twenty years. Jazz fans may know him from his seven-year stint in pianist Hiromi’s trio and from the original Protocol, among other things.
The Protocol project sprung up in 1989 in the form of a five-track instrumental mini-album of demos. Phillips was particularly inspired by his collaborative composition with Tony Hymas for Jeff Beck’s There & Back. This resulted in songs with a distinctly rock approach to jazz fusion. Due to the enormous workload as drummer on Toto and other successful projects, it took nearly a quarter century for Phillips to revive his Protocol. Protocol II was released in 2013, and more albums followed until last year’s Protocol V.
This year marks exactly 20 years since Phillips was inducted into Modern Drummer magazine’s Hall of Fame. Much has changed in the music world in that time, but Phillips remains a modern drummer.
Simon Phillips – drums, Alex Sill – guitar, Ernest Tibbs – bass, Otmaro Ruiz – keyboards, Jacob Scesney – saxophones
Donny McCaslin feat. Jason Lindner, Jonathan Maron & Zach Danziger
8. 5. 2023
CED – Divadlo Husa na provázku
Rock music that is elemental and raw, with a sophisticated and exploratory approach that expose an erudite jazzman. Donny McCaslin will probably never completely shed the label of a “Bowie guy”, but visitors to JazzFest in Brno and beyond already know that he is first and foremost a star with his own repertoire bordering between jazz, rock and electronic pop.
American saxophonist and composer Donny McCaslin has been navigating the jazz waters for more than three decades. His career took an unexpected turn when David Bowie approached him and invited him and his band to record the album Blackstar – as it turned out, Bowie’s final album. But McCaslin didn’t come to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by chance. As a teenager, he had toured Europe and Asia with several bands, and at the age of eighteen he won a full scholarship to the legendary Berklee College of Music. In 1987, McCaslin joined Gary Burton’s band, and within four years he was touring the world with them again. In 1991 he settled in New York City and three years later replaced saxophone legend Michael Brecker in Steps Ahead. In 1998, he released his first original album, Exile and Discovery.
Donny McCaslin has since recorded eleven more albums. Over the years, he has increasingly begun to involve electronic effects into his work. It was the more electronic sound of McCaslin’s band that captivated David Bowie, and their subsequent collaboration on Blackstar completed McCaslin’s musical transformation. “After David, everything actually changed. I look at music differently, I think about writing differently,” McCaslin says. Recording a final and pivotal album with one of the biggest figures in music history can be a blessing, but also a bit of a curse. To shed the label of “those who played on Blackstar with Bowie” and become “just” Donny McCaslin and his band again is certainly not an easy path. But the progressive saxophonist knows that unceasing original creativity works best. In Brno we can look forward to the latest repertoire from his upcoming album.
Donny McCaslin – saxophone, Jason Lindner – keyboard, Jonathan Maron – bass guitar, Zach Danziger – drums
Kronos Quartet: 50 years on the scene
9. 5. 2023
The renowned string ensemble Kronos Quartet celebrates its anniversary in 2023. It has been on the music scene for an incredible 50 years. But still with the same charm and, above all, with an unquenchable desire to constantly explore new musical horizons.
Music publicists classify the Kronos Quartet as “contemporary music” at first, but those who go below the surface do not forget to mention the jazz influences that are invisibly imprinted in the quartet’s music. The fact that the music of the Kronos Quartet has much more in common with jazz than it might seem at first glance is proven by the concert at the JazzFestBrno festival, which the band will be attending for the very first time as part of the celebration of 50 years of its existence.
The basis of the Kronos Quartet’s work is the long-term cooperation with many world-famous composers. The ensemble’s collaborators include many composers dedicated to minimalism. Terry Riley is one of them, and collaborations with Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, Kevin Volans and Steve Reich, whose composition Different Trains, recorded by the Kronos Quartet, won a Grammy Award, have also been important. Over the course of the ensemble’s existence, over 600 compositions have been written for it. “I look for music that is a certain expression of emotion. When I talk to composers, I talk to them on that level. I don’t want them to write just another song in a series. I want the most amazing piece of music,” says the ensemble’s founder, violinist David Harrington. At the same time, the Kronos Quartet has been forming its successors for a long time. For its 50th anniversary, it has created a project called 50 for the Future, a free digital library of fifty contemporary works designed to guide string quartets in developing and honing the skills needed to perform 21st-century repertoire. Quartet’s current world tour setlist will be defined by that library.
David Harrington – violin, John Sherba – violin, Hank Dutt – violin, Paul Wiancko – violoncello
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