Czech lives jazz – and so can you!
This musical genre, created in New Orleans at the start of the 20th century, has been resounding throughout the world for more than a hundred years and continues to find new interpreters and listeners. It is also popular in the Czech Republic, where every year sees a large number of jazz festivals and performances. So where should you go in the autumn?
The strings of Autumn
The 18th edition of the Struny podzimu (Strings of Autumn) international music festival will take place in Prague in the weeks between 23 September and 9 November this year. The festival line-up will include exceptional performers headed by Wayne Shorter, Barbara Hannigan, Jordi Savall and Rufus Wainwright. This year’s edition will culminate with a concert by the tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter in the Great Hall of Lucerna, and there will also be performances by two songwriters from the Americas: the Canadian Rufus Wainwright and singer, composer, guitarist and percussionist Vinicius Cantuária from Brazil, the master of contemporary bossa nova. Concerts are held in a number of venues across Prague, for example the State Opera, the Rudolfinum, Hybernia Theatre and the Barrandov film studios.
The Prague club scene and other festivals
Every day you can choose from a rich variety of jazz clubs in Prague. Amongst the most popular is the legendary Reduta Jazz Club, which in its more than thirty years of existence has seen performances by the major jazz musicians from the Czech Republic and abroad; it was here that American president Bill Clinton played on his visit to Prague!
On Janáčkovo nábřeží, literally on the river’s surface, you’ll fine the attractive Jazz Dock – Jazz & Blues Bar & Café, which aims at listeners of all generations and all genres. During a single evening, several excellent music groups, featuring many of their own and guests musicians, will take their turns on stage. Another well-known sanctuary for jazz-lovers is the Jazz & Blues Club Ungelt, not far from Old Town Square, and AghaRTA in Železná street in Old Town.
For more than twenty years now the AghaRTA Prague Jazz Festival has been held in spring and autumn, at a variety of venues across Prague, attracting a large number of top musicians to the Czech capital. The autumn schedule will include concerts by saxophonist Joshua Redman, funk legend Maceo Parker and drummer Magnus Öström’s group from the E.S.T. Esbjorn Swenson Trio.
Jazz Goes to Hradec Králové
Where to go for other jazz festivals? How about Hradec Králové, where the Jazz Goes to Town international jazz festival takes place in mid-October. The festival offers a wide spectrum of genres, from traditional jazz to blues, fusion, mainstream, funky jazz, be-bop and free jazz every year, with many Czech premieres, acquainting audiences with top musicians from both Europe and across the world, as well as representatives of the Czech jazz scene. A good reputation is also enjoyed by the Jazz bez hranic (Jazz Without Borders) festival, which visits Plzeň and many other towns in the area between October and September. Amongst the musicians invited this year are the famous trumpeter Randy Brecker and New York Voices from America, all of them Grammy award holders!