European Standards 2015
Visit To Prague – Jazzpool would like to continue its European tour in 2015. Musicians from Nordrhein Westphalia (NRW) will meet outstanding players from various cosmopolitan cities in Europe. During the last three years we have created programmes entitled “Cantus” in which traditional songs have been transformed into contemporary Jazz pieces.
The current concept for the years to come is called “European Standards”. It has become apparent that local Jazz from the Danube, Seine or Weichsel can readily stand up to international standards, regardless whether it originates from individual voices or traditional European forms. This holds true for the art of solo improvisation just as well as for composing Jazz. Musicians like John Surman, Tomasz Stanko, Eberhard Weber and Jan Garbarek – to name just a few – have created preeminent pieces of music, setting highest standards that deserve to become real standards themselves.
With these European Standards mingle compositions from the current Jazzpool musicians, reflecting the self-confidence of “enlightened Jazz combos”. In particular, musicians from the Rhein-Ruhr area, will visit the Moldau. Prague has always had an enormously vivid Jazz scene. Here, swing music pulsated during the 1930es already.
Free sounds arose suspicion in German Nazis after 1933 as well as in Czechoslovakian communists after 1948, which led to the massive repression and prosecution of many Jazz players. However, in some cases these historic catastrophes had unexpected consequences: The saxophone player Karel Krautgartner, who during the 60es still directed a big band for Radio Prague, left his home country in summer 1968, due to the invasion of Soviet troops. After a short intermezzo in Vienna he moved further on to Cologne where he held seminars for popular music at the music school “Rheinische Musikschule”. Later it was him, who as a professor pushed and arranged for the creation of a master course in Jazz music at the Cologne Academy of Music.
Talking about Jazz from Prague, one is immediately tempted to think of two world class musicians originating from this city: Miroslav Vitous und George ‚ Jiri’ Mraz have been among the top class bass players, worldwide. Consequently, the bass player of “European Standards” had to come from the Czech Republic, too. Robert Balzar has received multiple awards in his home country: best bass player, best CD, best Jazz band, etc. He has been playing, among others, with John Abercrombie, Wynton Marsalis, Tony Scott und Benny Bailey.
The ensemble is completed by new czech jazz-shooting star Jiri Levicek. After studying in the USA, he already collected an impressive number of festivals on his vita.