Akord Jazz Club

Geoff Tyson visits the Jazz and Blues venue

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 30.10.2007 13:04:39 (updated on 30.10.2007) Reading time: 3 minutes

Written by Geoff Tyson
For Expats.cz

The Akord Jazz club might be a regular fixture in music-rich New Orleans, London or Edinburgh, but it is truly one of a kind in Prague.

Located an easy staggering distance from Namesti Repubiky and many tram lines (from the square, go north, turn left at V celnici and the club is on your right), the Akord Jazz club is the venue of choice for anyone wanting an evening of good music, good beer and spirits, good company, and completely random craziness. The entrance is 200 CZK (150 CZK with membership) and the drinks are standard price for what you might expect near the center.

The bar has a very ‘home made´ sort of a feel. The carpets are old and have an odor of beer and cigarettes. The chairs and tables are old and well used but it really adds to the charm of the place. The club also includes an art gallery, with an ongoing exhibit “Suffering and Happiness of Human Soul”: paintings by mentally ill authors and painters. Open daily: bar, art gallery & CD shop hours: 7:00 PM – 1:00 AM, live music 9:00 PM until… Patron dress ranges from extremely casual to well dressed so you can feel comfortable if you´re in your backpackers garb, or if your Cartier cufflinks have recently been buffed by your man-servant. Akord is unapologetically a no-frills music bar.

I went to interview the owner Petr Hejna and was completely unprepared for the incredible evening I had.

Akord opened about two years ago and, with his son and ex wife, Petr runs the club, mixes sound, books the musicians, plays guitar in one of the house bands, the TransEuropean Sexpress, and hustles around to do countless other jobs in the bar from day to day.

You can see the excitement in Petr´s smile when he speaks about his club and his music. He conducts the entire club like it was The Akord Philharmonic. His passion is what makes this club so much fun.

On a small, well equipped sound stage, Akord has hosted countless musicians playing anything from jazz, reggae, rock, fusion, gospel, flamenco, experimental, blues and folk. They often have ‘Jam Band´ night where any combination of local musicians get together to perform standards, cover songs, blues jams and improv. Professional level musicians can come jam with the house band if they can keep up, but be warned, the every-day musicians who play here are world-class. This is a club for people who want to listen.

It is not uncommon for the band and the audience to continue raging until the sun comes up. Since the club is located in the basement of an office complex, they do not have to adhere to the noise cut-off rules that other clubs are tethered to.

As my conversation with Petr progressed, the club started to fill up and the musicians started to arrive. Tonight´s musicians had never played together. They were all called in last minute to fill in for a French artist who didn´t show up.

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Petr asked me in his broken English which songs I would like to play.

“Am I playing tonight?” I asked sheepishly.

Apparently there was never any question about it. As I watched him tune up an electric guitar and set up the vocal mic for me, I found myself suddenly forgetting every lyric to every song I thought I knew. But after seeing the passion and excitement in the room, I could not decline this fantastic invitation. The beer helped too.

With Ivan Jurko on the piano, Martin playing bass, the super-groovy Petr Zimak on the drums and owner Petr Hejna on the lead guitar, the band rocked through some Stevie Wonder, John Lennon, U2, Jeff Buckley, blues improv, Sam Cooke, and a lively rendition of The Pink Panther. The crowd was on its feet, singing and dancing along like we were an old favorite.

By the end, we were all family. Each and every person in that bar was a part of the improvisation of the evening each of us contributing a piece to the whole. In the end, there was no difference between the dread-locked hippies and the GQ models. The music had brought us together.

Petr´s pure excitement and enthusiasm makes being at the Akord Club a real joy. He is a man who truly loves what he does. Expect the unexpected, open your mind to the new, and rage on until the morning light!

Akord Jazz Club,
V celnici 4, Prague 1
www.akord-jazz.com

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