Three American singers presenting their form of contemporary jazz, two symphony orchestras operating in the region, a young domestic formation, a combination of poetry and jazz and different forms of blues form the program of the 38th JAZZFEST KARLOVY VARY International Jazz Festival - SOKOLOV 2021. With one big change in date.
For many years, the festival always took place in October. Due to last year's experience, when the next wave of the pandemic only allowed an introductory concert, this year the organizing company Jazzový kruh, z.s., led by musician Milan Krajíc, decided to bring forward the date to the beginning of September.
This year's JazzFest will take place from September 2nd to October 7th and will offer a total of six concerts. The Jazzový kruh, z.s. is organizing the festival for the 22nd time, traditionally 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 Ing. Petr Kulhánek.
The festival will open on 2nd September in the Gallery of Art, with a domestic and from the Karlovy Vary region originating the Jazz Cakes formation, led by singer Lucie Víšková. In addition to jazz standards, the band also likes to delve into other popular genres with an emphasis on their own new and unique arrangements.
After that, the American singer of a deeper obscured tone, Lauren Henderson, will perform, focusing mainly on Caribbean and Latin music. The repertoire includes standards and own original compositions. Lauren Henderson's varied musical background is deeply rooted in jazz and influenced by singers such as Sarah Vaughan and Omar Portuondo. The singer, who has eight albums to her credit, will be accompanied by American pianist of Austrian origin Walter Fischbacher, already well known to the local audience, as well as double bassist Petr Dvorský and drummer Ulf Stricker.
The very next day, on 3rd September, saxophonist Milan Krajíc will perform the Soul Stars Symphony at the Karlovy Vary Municipal Theater. 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. This project was supposed to close last year’s festival but for well-known "pandemic" reasons, the listeners can only appreciate it this year.
After that, the events will move to the Municipal House of Culture in Sokolov, where two different blues positions will be heard on 8th September. First will perform electric blues with rock and jazz oriented captions, formation the Blue Condition, created by experienced local musicians. Then will Jan Spálený & ASPM present the jazz form of blues. Leader Jan Spálený, a singer, keyboard and cornet player, has top players in the Czech jazz scene - trumpet player Michal Gera, vibraphonist Radek Krampl, tuba and bass player Filip Spálený and drummer Filip Jeníček. The concert will be based on songs from the latest album "I can't catch your breath", which represent the pinnacle of ASPM concerts, and which have changed and matured over the years.
At the beginning of the second half of the festival, the program will be enriched, for the third time, with a special part of the Poetry & Jazz series called Jazz Inspiration III. Reading jazz or jazz-related texts by the Poetic Group Drahomíra alternates with a live production by the Jazz Apetit group.
Different vocal approaches will be presented on 25th September at the Imperial Hotel by the Allison Wheeler Band and the Aimée Allen Quartet, led by American singers. Allison Wheeler is a versatile singer with a strong focus on improvisation, who left her studies at art school for her love of jazz. She currently works as a teacher in Europe. She will present compositions from her first author's album, which she prepared last year together with the Prague trio of pianist Daniel Bulatkin. Daniel Bulatkin is rightly named among the greatest contemporary young piano talents of the Prague scene. He will be accompanied by double bassist Max Makagonov and drummer Petr Nohavica.
Aimée Allen focuses on jazz standards, which she listened to, thanks to her mother’s large collections of records, since her childhood, Latin jazz, bossa nova and, due to her previous stay in Paris, chanson. The singer gradually presents herself and promotes herself as a composer, many of her original songs have found great popularity with the audience. She has released four albums so far. The instrumental part of the quartet consists of keyboardist Walter Fischbacher, double bassist Petr Dvorský and drummer Joris Dudli.
The final concert of the festival will take place on 7th October at the Grandhotel Ambassador Národní dům, where will perform pianists and composers Kryštof Marek and Milan Svoboda together with the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra. The world premiere will include Mark's Suite No. II for soprano saxophone, piano and chamber symphony orchestra. Saxophone parties will be performed by Milan Krajíc. Another composition, „The Key to the Gardens“, comes from the work of Kryštof Marek, and the concert master of the KSO, the violinist Jakub Sedláček, will perform as a soloist.
The world-renowned jazz great Milan Svoboda will then appear at the piano with his adaptations of ten Beatles compositions for solo piano and string orchestra. The songs were released by Milan Svoboda on CD. The concert will be conducted by Kryštof Marek.
The concert will also include the presentation of the Baron Schoeneck Prize, which is a recognition and appreciation of an important personality or collective who have significantly contributed to the development and enrichment of the jazz life of the region.