The American singer and multi-instrumentalist Ray Greene, who was among others in the legendary soul band Tower of Power and in the legendary guitarist Carlos Santana's band, is going to be the main star of the 40th anniversary edition of the international jazz festival JAZZFEST KARLOVY VARY 2023.
The festival concerts present a wide range of musical trends focused on modern jazz and its fusion with other genres. This year's JAZZFEST is organized for the twenty-fourth time by the Jazzový kruh company headed by musician Milan Krajíc, 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 the Governor of the Karlovy Vary Region Ing. Petr Kulhánek.
The festival opens on 7th October in the Drahomíra cinema with a special part of the Poetry & Jazz series, which will take place within the festival for the fifth time. Readings of poetry and jazz texts performed by the Drahomíra Poetry Group will alternate with a live production by Jazz Apetit. Afterwards, the Czech fusion band Los Quemados, founded by bassist Filip Spáleny, whose main asset is the originality of their own compositions and a high level of instrumental proficiency, energy and overall interplay is going to perform.
The main festival concert with the star Ray Green will take place on 9th October at the Karlovy Vary Town Theatre. Greene, a graduate of the world-renowned Berklee College of Music, has performed and recorded with many of the most successful and influential names in pop, funk and soul, including Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, the Isley Brothers and Rick James. He was a member of the legendary soul band Tower Of Power, who chose him as lead singer and trombonist for two years. He was then asked to join the band of the famous guitarist Carlos Santana, where he is one of the two lead singers, trombonist and percussionist. Santana's music is an excellent opportunity for Green to prove his abilities vocally and instrumentally.
Besides, Greene also releases solo albums, the latest, the fourth, titled Stay, was released this year. In its support, the singer will undertake his first ever solo tour of Europe.
The opening act is going to be the jazz-fusion ensemble Jazz Fancies led by the brilliant saxophonist Milan Krajic. The eight-member band includes renowned musicians from all over the country, including trumpeter Miroslav Hloucal, who has collaborated and is still collaborating not only with the leading players of the Czech jazz scene, but has also met world legends on stage, and the young talented singer Petra Brabencová.
The Kristina Barta Quartet, a group led by the internationally acclaimed Czech pianist and composer Kristina Barta, is going to present a more intimate concert on 14th October at the Art Gallery. The quartet currently performs with the world-renowned New York-based Slovenian saxophonist Jure Pukl. The rhythm section of the band consists of the Slovak bassist Peter Korman and the Czech drummer Marek Urbánek.
Afterwards, we can look forward to a performance by the Doug Hammond Trio, whose main protagonist, the American drummer, composer and poet Doug Hammond, has already performed at the JazzFest in the past. Hammond has worked with some of the world's biggest names in jazz in his rich career, including Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Nina Simone, Earl Hooker, James Blood Ulmer and many others. Now he introduces his trio, who along with the distinguished Italian trumpeter Mirko Cisilino and Nikola Matošić, one of the finest Slovenian double bassists of his generation. The result is music that brings new forms of swinging, bluesy jazz and ballads.
Good Bye Blue Condition is the name of the farewell concert that will mark the end of the existence of the Karlovy Vary blues-rock band Blue Condition on 11th November in the Drahomíra Cinema. The band was formed in 1997 and since its debut it has regularly performed in many rock and jazz clubs and at jazz festivals. In the beginnings, the repertoire was mainly based on Chicago blues, but gradually jazz standards played with a rock edge also made their appearance. The band will be bringing in a number of guests who have worked with the group in the past.
The festival closes on December 7th with a concert by the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra at Grandhotel Pupp. They will be presenting the Concerto for Cello and Wind Orchestra by the Austrian pianist and composer Friedrich Gulda, who was greatly influenced by his encounter with jazz music in the 1950s. Concertmaster Martin Ondráček is going to be the soloist, the KSO will be led by its chief conductor Ondřej Vrabec.
In the second part, a mass by the Welsh composer and musician Karl Jenkins, The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace, will be performed under the leadership of conductor and choirmaster Jan Rezek. An anti-war piece with the subtitle A Mass for Peace based on the Catholic Mass, which Jenkins combined with other sources, in particular the 15th century folk song "L'homme armé", at the time of its composition it was dedicated to the victims of the Kosovo crisis. It will feature five soloists and six choirs, led by the Carlsbad Choir.