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Czech jazz at EFG London Jazz Festival

13 - 19 NOVEMBER 2015 - Every year the EFG London Jazz Festival brings the best and the hottest jazz from across the globe to the British capital. BBC Radio 3’s Jez Nelson has described the festival as “the best jazz festival on the planet”. The stars featuring this year include James Farm, the composer Maria Schneider, the drummer Manu Katché, the trumpeter Terence Blanchard, the pianist Hiromi with her Trio project and bassist Dave Holland.

This year there will also be three Czech concerts featuring the Clarinet Factory quartet, vocalist Miriam Bayle and double bassist Miroslav Vitouš with pianist Emil Viklický. The Czech Centre is a proud partner of these events.

Amy Pearce from the production company Serious, which has been organising London’s 10-day celebration of jazz for 23 years, said: “The EFG London Jazz Festival are delighted to continue their collaboration with the Czech Centre. This year's programme celebrates the breadth of the Czech scene - from the experimental Clarinet Factory, via the UK debut of vocalist Miriam Bayle to Miroslav Vitouš, one of the defining figures of European Jazz.”

Clarinet Factory will be performing in the beautiful St. John-at-Hackney church with Hidden Orchestra, producer and composer Joe Achesona’s famous group.

“It is actually our first concert in London. What’s more, it is in a space with a fantastic atmosphere. We are so pleased to have been invited by the Czech Centre and especially by Hidden Orchestra, who we will be supporting and who we’ve been friends with for several years. We have played a concert together before and they have also remixed our song ‘5 steps’, so both versions will be played at the concert. We’re expecting a demanding audience!” Jindřich Pavliš, the quartet’s leader, divulged.

“I've only recently discovered Clarinet Factory (via their excellent "Worx and Reworkx" album of originals and remixes)....but already I can't imagine a sonic universe without them!” said Nick Luscombe, presenter of BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction, adding, “They have unique pacing and textures and perfectly fuse classical with jazz...and beyond.”

Clarinet Factory

Miriam Bayle, the Prague-based Slovak singer, will be a newcomer to the festival. She recorded her debut, and to date only official, album full of jazz classics in 2010. Miriam will be bringing her show ‘Scat Phenomenon’ to London, having premiered it last autumn in Prague’s La Fabrika.

“I will be singing for the first time this year at the London Jazz Festival. I’m going to be accompanied by excellent musicians and I’m really looking forward to the concert which will largely focus on scat (vocal improvisation),” Miriam Bayle explained, “I think the audience will really enjoy it as well.”

The ‘Scat Phenomenon’ project consists both of Miriam Bayle’s original compositions and of lesser-known jazz songs, mostly with Latin American beats, which have been arranged by Bayle.

“From what I’ve heard of Miriam’s work, her music is hugely innovative. Nothing has been copied or borrowed from elsewhere. I like that her music is new and combines vocals and scat in a creative way,” remarked Paul Pace, artistic director at Spice of Life, the club where Miriam Bayle will be performing.

Miriam Bayle

Perhaps the biggest Czech star at this year’s London Jazz Festival will be the double bassist Miroslav Vitouš. After studying at the Prague conservatoire, Vitouš received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston before moving to New York in 1966. It was there he played with musicians such as Bob Brookmeyer, Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Art Farmer, Stan Getz, Charlie Mariano and Herbie Mann. Vitouš is also one of the founding members of the famous band Weather Report.  After a long time away, he is returning to London and will play with Emil Viklický, the renowned Czech jazz pianist and composer.

“London is a great place for jazz. I’ve already played at this festival twice before. The first time was in 2006 with James Harries, the second time was in 2007 when I played with my EV trio at the Pizza Express Jazz Club on Dean Street. I’m delighted that this year I will be performing in a duo with the phenomenal double bassist, Miroslav Vitouš, at Milton Court,” Viklický said, before adding his modest hope that, “if we’re lucky on 19th November, maybe in London it won’t rain!”

Miroslav Vitouš
Emil Viklický

Audiences will still be able to hear Czech jazz even after the festival has finished. On 30th November, NTS Trio will be performing at the Vortex in Dalston. The group was invited to play by Bassment Jaxx’s Simon Ratcliffe. NTS Trio played a concert, organised by the Czech Centre, in May at The Forge, London, after which they were asked to record at Ratcliffe’s studio. Two of the resulting tracks – Dark Forsage and Seven Up – are now being released by Gearbox Records.

NTS Trio has an unusual line-up, consisting of three musicians from very different musical backgrounds: progressive keyboard player Michal Nejtek, jazz double bassist Petr Tichý, and rock drummer Štěpán Smetáček. Their music is characterised as “a combination of disco, free jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and improvisation.”

“What it means for us to be in London?” asked Michal Nejtek, “To be honest – it´s some kind of dream. Our favorite art comes from London. Words like UFO Club, Ronnie Scott, jam sessions, „swinging London“, Blow-Up etc. are like symbols of something fantastic, full of freedom and creativity (not just simple words or titles). London is something like artistic „melting pot“ for us (even if we don´t know him a lot) – and we hope that our music is the same. Across the borders, genres and feelings.”


Translated by Esther Jones Russell

Czech jazz in London:

Clarinet Factory and Hidden Orchestra
13th November 2015, St. John-at-Hackney

Miriam Bayle: Scat Phenomenon
16th November 2015, Spice of Life

Miroslav Vitouš and Emil Viklický
19th November 2015, Milton Court, London Barbican

NTS Trio + Binker and Moses
30th November 2015, Vortex