Jan 9, 2013 7:00 PM
DVORAK IN LOVE MEETS THE BASS SAXOPHONE
A JAZZ AND LITERARY TRIBUTE TO JOSEF SKVORECKY
One of the greatest writers in the Czech
language, beloved author Josef Skvorecky (1924-2012) is remembered in a program of
his jazz favorites performed by Czech jazz pianist Emil Viklicky and American
saxophonist Scott Robinson (bass saxophone), accompanied by Martin Wind, string bass and Klaus Suonsaari, drums. Also featured are readings from Skvorecky's
renowned works "Dvorak in
Love" and "The Bass Saxophone," among others. Though he wrote on
subjects ranging from detective fiction to war, music is at the heart of Skvorecky's fiction.
Presented by the Dvorak American Heritage Association and Czech Center New York.
General Admission to be paid at door $20; Seniors, Students, Czech Center Club Members $10.
Josef Skvorecky, The New York Times Obituary, January 5, 2012
Comments by Michael Beckerman, Professor and Chair of New York University Music Department: Many writers are seriously engaged with music in their work. Josef Škvorecký is fascinating because he wrote books and stories that take a wide view, thinking about issues in both jazz and classical music traditions. There is something "classical" about his writing on jazz, and something jazzy about his book on Dvořák which we in the States know as "Dvořák in Love," but was originally titled "Scherzo Capriccioso." In our memorial event we wish to commemorate both worlds with readings and performances by Czech jazz great Emil Viklický to capture some of that quicksilver spirit that characterized the writer and the man.
Comments by Czech jazz pianist Emil Viklicky: Josef Skvorecky's books were my very first information about jazz. I have read over and over the musicians´ talk in "Cowards", and similar passages in "The End of the Nylon Age,""The Legend of Emoke," and other short stories. Back in 1975, the Brussels psychiatrist Jan Weger asked me to write a letter to Josef explaining what happened to his close friend (Czech trumpet player, composer, arranger, and conductor) Pavel "Benno" Bayerle. The three pages of my letter finally ended up in "The Engineer of Human Souls." Since then we kept in contact. While in the hospital in Toronto in 2011, Josef was listening to the soundtrack of "Rhythm on the Heels," a film based on his script for which I wrote new arrangements of old Czech standards, as well as some film music. Never ever can I receive higher praise for my humble work than when Josef said "That music made me feel alive again.”
Emil Viklicky Biography:
Emil Viklicky was born November 23, 1948, in Olomouc, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), and started to play piano at a very early age. His grandfather Victor Wiklitzky had brought a Hoffbauer concert grand piano from Vienna as a wedding gift for his musically gifted bride. Emil graduated from Palacky University with a degree in mathematics in 1971. While a student, he devoted much time to playing jazz piano. In 1974, he was awarded the prize for best soloist at the Czechoslovak Amateur Jazz Festival, and that same year he joined Karel Velebny's SHQ ensemble. Emil was a prizewinner at the jazz improvisation competition in Lyon in 1976, and his composition “Green Satin” (Zeleny saten) earned him first prize in the music conservatory competition in Monaco. Nine years later, his “Cacharel” won second prize in the same competition.
In 1977 Emil was awarded a four-year scholarship to study composition and arranging with Herb Pomeroy at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He then continued his composition studies with Jarmo Sermila, George Crumb, and Vaclav Kucera. Since his return to Prague he has been directing his own ensembles (primarily quartets and quintets), composing and arranging music and—since the death of Karel Velebny—working as director of the Summer Jazz Workshops in Frydlant. He has also lectured at a similar workshop event in Glamorgan, Wales.
Between 1991 and 1995 Viklicky was President of the Czech Jazz Society, and since 1994 he has worked with the Ad Lib Moravia ensemble, whose performances combine elements of Moravian folk music, modern jazz, and contemporary music. In 1996 the ALM ensemble undertook a highly successful concert tour of Mexico and the United States.
As a pianist, Emil often performs in international ensembles alongside musicians from the U.S. and European countries. During 1983-89, he worked with the Lou Blackburn International Quartet, the Benny Bailey Quintet, and American multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson. He has made frequent appearances in Finland (with the Finnczech Quartet and in particular with Jarmo Sermila) and Norway (with the Czech-Norwegian Big Band and Harald Gundhus), and has performed in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Israel, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands (at the North Sea Festival), and elsewhere. Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner wrote of Emil that “It was a delightful surprise to see such first-class, top-of-the-line jazz in Prague.”
As a composer and pianist, Emil has become noted for his unique synthesis of the melodicism and tonalities of Moravian folk song with modern jazz. As English critic Euan Dixon wrote in 2005, “Emil Viklicky is one of those European jazz pianists who successfully incorporated elements of his indigenous folk culture into jazz.”
He also composes straight-ahead modern jazz as well as chamber and orchestral works that utilize certain elements of the New Music, and at times his music requires a combination of classical and jazz performers.
In addition, Emil composes incidental and film music and has produced scores for several full-length feature films and television series. Throughout the 1990s he devoted an increasing amount of time to the composition of contemporary classical music for a variety of instrumental combinations ranging from small chamber ensembles and electronic instruments to symphony orchestras and choruses. Viklicky’s work has gained him a number of prestigious awards, including the 1991 Film and Television Association prize for music for animated films, second prize at the 1994 Marimolin contemporary music competition in Boston (for “Tristana”), a 1996 Prague award for electroacoustic music (for “Paradise Park”), a 1996 Czech Music Fund prize for use of folk music in art music, and first prize in a 2000 international OPERA composition competition in Prague (for the opera Phaedra).
“One of the best contemporary pianists, Emil Viklicky’s soloing and
comping, his touch, voicings and intervals have a good deal in common with
fleet, tasteful pianists like Tommy Flanagan, Jimmy Rowles and Bill
Doug Ramsey, Jazz Time (Dec. 2004)
“Combine elements of Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson with a deep infusion of Moravian soul, and you have Emil Viklicky, the patriarch of Czech jazz piano.”
Jack Massarik, Evening Standard, London (June 5, 2006)
“Emil Viklicky Trio has the same collective energy as Esbjorn Svenson Trio, though without electronics and rock input.”
John Fordham, Guardian, London (Sept. 13, 2006)
“Viklicky himself is a wonderfully lyrical yet robust pianist, his
playing packed with dynamic and textural subtleties.”
Chris Parker, London (Dec. 22, 1997)
“The program did have its share of happy marriages. Emil Viklicky cloaked
the writings of Vaclav Havel in two distinctly different garments: a slinky,
flirtatious raiment to accompany an early work and a gray, bluesy fleece that
provided a huddling place for a prison letter afforded a witty reading by Mario
David Sprague, Variety (Oct. 29, 2004)
“Emil Viklicky’s introspective musings might remind you of Keith Jarrett
or Brad Mehldau… The CD Morava is promising arrival at new
Calvin Wilson, Schwann Inside Jazz &Classical (April 2001)
“Emil Viklicky plays Bill Evans inspired piano... ‘Myjava,’ “Slunecko sa nizi’ and ‘Touha’ are masterful examples of world-class jazz artistry.”
Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times (March 25,
Scott Robinson Biography:
One of today's most wide-ranging instrumentalists, Scott Robinson has been heard
on tenor sax with Buck Clayton's band, on trumpet with Lionel Hampton's quintet,
on alto clarinet with Paquito D'Rivera's clarinet quartet, and on bass sax with
the New York City Opera. On these and other instruments including theremin and
ophicleide, he has been heard with a cross-section of jazz's greats representing
nearly every imaginable style of the music, from Braff to Braxton. Scott has
been heard numerous times on film, radio and television, and his discography now
includes more than 200 recordings. His releases as a leader have garnered
five-star reviews from Leonard Feather, Down Beat Magazine and other sources
worldwide. One, Melody From the Sky (featuring the seldom-heard C-Melody
saxophone), was recently the subject of a Wall Street Journal article
by Nat Hentoff. His newest, Forever Lasting (featuring the compositions of Thad
Jones and with guest artist Hank Jones), appeared on four "Best Of" lists for
2008 including All About Jazz and Jazz Improv Magazine.
A busy traveller, Scott has performed in some thirty nations, once completing tours on five continents in a three-month period. He has performed in such diverse and prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, the Village Vanguard, the Library of Congress and the Vienna Opera House. His performances for dignitaries worldwide have included a U.S. Presidential Inauguration and a command performance honoring the birthday of the king of Thailand. Scott's group was selected to be the closing act at the Knitting Factory's Sun Ra Festival in New York City. Scott has also written magazine articles and liner notes, and was an invited speaker at the Congressional Black Caucus Jazz Forum in Washington, D.C.
Scott was selected by the US State Department to be a Jazz Ambassador for 2001, completing an eight-week, eleven-country tour of West Africa performing his arrangements of the compositions of Louis Armstrong (later featured on his CD Jazz Ambassador).
Scott's many works as a composer cover a very wide range, from solo performance pieces, jazz tunes and songs, a suite for jazz quintet based on the titles of Doc Savage pulp novels of the thirties and forties, and chamber works such as his Immensities for Large Instruments, on up to large-scale compositions for wind symphony and even combined orchestras.
The son of a piano teacher and a National Geographic writer/editor, Scott Robinson was born on April 27, 1959 in New Jersey, and grew up in an eighteenth century Virginia farmhouse. While in high school, he received the "Louis Armstrong Award", and the "Best Soloist Award" from the National Association of Jazz Educators. In 1981, he graduated from Boston's Berklee College of Music, and a year later became, at 22, Berklee's youngest faculty member.
Since moving to New York in 1984, Scott has been awarded four fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts, and participated in a number of Grammy-nominated and Grammy-winning recordings. He has been profiled in new editions of the Encyclopedia of Jazz and Grove's Dictionary of Jazz, along with books by Royal Stokes, Nat Hentoff and others. In 1997, a 4-minute CNN program featured Scott and the giant contrabass saxophone which he used on his CD, Thinking Big. Scott has been the winner of a number Down Beat Critics Polls and Jazz Journalists Association awards in recent years.
Now a resident of Teaneck, NJ, Scott has constructed a studio/laboratory for sonic research, containing an astonishing assortment of instruments and devices. His first solo and collaborative recordings from this facility will soon appear under his ScienSonic Laboratories imprint.
A respected performer in all areas of jazz, from traditional to avant-garde, Scott Robinson has arrived at his own unique musical voice which, as once described in a Northsea Jazz Festival program, "combines solid foundations with great daring".
321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
Jan 9, 2013 7:00 PM
Czech Center is a coorganizer of the event