World-renowned American bass virtuoso Andrew "The Bullet" Lauer, the world premiere of the pianist, composer and conductor Kryštof Marek, guitarist Libor Šmoldas, one of the young stars of European jazz, two in the region operating symphonic orchestras, recent discoveries of the Czech jazz scene and other musicians and formations of undeniable qualities form the programme of concerts of the 37th edition of the international jazz festival JAZZFEST KARLOVY VARY – SOKOLOV 2020.
From 7th October to 7th November, there are five concerts and a show combining music with jazz poetry. The festival's programme, which includes modern jazz and inter-genre fusions, has undergone many changes this year, due to persistent coronavirus problems and measures, and many agreed foreign musicians have lost the opportunity to participate in the festival.
The festival is organized for the 21st time by the Jazzový Kruh company headed by director and musician Milan Krajíc. The festival is traditionally held with the support of the City of Karlovy Vary and the Karlovy Vary Region, the patronage of JazzFest was provided by the Mayor of Karlovy Vary Ing. Andrea Pfeffer Ferklová, MBA and Governor of the Karlovy Vary Region Mgr. Petr Kubis.
The main part of the festival will be preceded by a special part of the Poetry & Jazz series entitled Jazz Inspiration II at the Drahomíra Cinema on 7th October. Last year's reading of jazz lyrics alternating with live music was a great success. This year's show is dedicated to jazzophile and graphic designer Jan Pelc. He was a co-founder of the organization Jazzový Kruh, participated in a number of jazz concerts and shows and, most importantly, was for many years a poster author and the creator of the artistic side of festivals. Later took on this role his brother Ivan Pelc, creating a reminiscence of their joint poster for the 1st Karlovy Vary Jazz Days in 1982.
The first three concerts will take place immediately after each other. Pianists and composers Kryštof Marek and Milan Svoboda will together with the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra (KSO) perform a concert at the Grandhotel Ambassador Národní dům on 15th October. The world premiere will include Mark's Suite No. II for soprano saxophone, piano and chamber symphony orchestra. It is certainly worth mentioning that Suite No. I Marek also performed together with KSO, as well as compositions by Sinael Jazz Symphony and Maria Kira, and are with the orchestra and soloists recorded on CD. Another composition, „Klíč k zahradám“ (The Key to the Gardens), comes from the work of Kryštof Marek, Milan Svoboda then replaces him at the piano with his adaptations of Beatles songs for solo piano and string orchestra. Kryštof Marek will be conducting the whole concert.
The following day, on 16th October, the American phenomenal bassist Andrew "The Bullet" Lauer, currently living in Germany, will with his trio perform in the Thermal Hotel - Congress Hall. Together with Lauer, the trio consists of keyboardist Daniel "Danny Eddy" Krüger and drummer Marcel Weishäupl. Andrew "The Bullet" Lauer can enchant the audience with his virtuoso play, which combines strong riffs with sometimes even melancholic melodies, as well as charismatic vocal and stage performance. A peculiarity in his music are the hip-hop elements perfectly harmonizing with his rhythmic style. Lauer, who has in his rich career performed with the bands Tower of Power and Dream Theater, will present songs from the latest album "The 2nd Journey".
The new discovery of the Czech jazz scene, The Track Inspection, will perform as the front band. The project of pianist and organist Jan Andr connects a hammond trio with a three-member brass section, musically it is an energetic fusion of jazz with funk and soul.
The concert on 17th October will take place in the Velichov pub „U Lípy“, which has within a few years gained a reputation as a concert venue with quality dramaturgy. Excellent guitarist Libor Šmoldas will present his band Libor Šmoldas Organ Trio Boosted here. The guitarist Hammond expanded his organ-based Organ Trio with a second drummer, creating a four-member "trio". Organist Jakub Zomer takes care of the unmistakable sound of the Hammonds and at the same time the bass line, and drummers Tomáš Hobzek and Martin Kopřiva take care of the captivating rhythm. Before them will perform a young band Soul ožil (Soul came alive), playing mostly soul and funk. The group was formed at the Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory under the leadership of the excellent saxophonist and pedagogue Štěpán Markovič, who will, with his playing skills, also support the formation.
The penultimate concert will take place on 20th October at the Municipal House of Culture in Sokolov. Vladimír Merta Trio will perform first. Singer icon Vladimír Merta teamed up with the phenomenal violinist Jan Hrubý and the six-months-younger pianist and guitarist Ondřej Fencl to perform his cult songs from the 1970s and 1980s. Jan Spálený & ASPM will then perform with the jazz form of the blues. Leader Jan Spálený, singer, keyboard and cornet player, has in the band top players of the Czech jazz scene – trumpeter Michal Gera, vibraphonist Radek Krampl, tuba and bass player Filip Spálený and drummer Filip Jeníček. Last year they released the album "Nemůžu popadnout tvůj dech“ (I can't catch your breath), the backbone of which consists of songs that represent the pinnacle of ASPM concerts, and which have changed and matured over the years.
The final concert of the festival will take place on 7th November at the Karlovy Vary Municipal Theater, where will saxophonist Milan Krajíc present the Soul Stars Symphony. Krajíc arranged famous hits by legendary authors from the soul-funk genre, such as Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Michael Jackson and others for a musical ensemble, which was created by the synthesis of the West Bohemian Symphony Orchestra from Mariánské Lázně and Krajíc's jazz combo JazzFancies. The individual compositions will be performed by exceptional singers Petra Brabencová, Martin Růža and Jaroslav Dolník. The concert will be led by conductor Martin Peschík.