International Jazz Day swings into Prague with a free open-air festival

Mladí ladí jazz Open-Air brings a day of free jazz to the Czech capital with international and local stars of the genre.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 25.04.2023 11:00:00 (updated on 26.04.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

International Jazz Day will be celebrated in Prague this week, a tribute to jazz musicians and fans of the genre in its many forms. In the Czech Republic, the day is marked with a free open-air event on Sunday, April 30, organized by the Young Tunes Jazz festival (Mladí ladí jazz) and featuring stars of the Czech and international scene.

Headlining the event at Prague's Karlovo náměstí is the British group Molotov Jukebox, which infuses jazz with Romani melodies, swing, and dubstep. The group's frontwoman, Natalia Tena, is a singer and actress known for her roles in the Harry Potter franchise and the Game of Thrones series. In addition to live music, the festival will offer refreshments and merch.

Jan Gregar, the director of the Mladí ladí jazz festival, said, "It's fascinating to see how today's musicians boldly absorb various other musical styles into jazz, whether it's electronica or world music. At Karlovo náměstí, we will present the leading representatives of contemporary jazz from the international and domestic scenes."

Jazz
Natalia Tena of Molotov Jukebox.

Another highlight of the festival will be the premiere of a musical project created for the 100th anniversary of Czech Radio, in which the legendary Gustav Brom Radio Big Band will join forces with musician and producer Aid Kid.

The energetic concert will also feature the Irish soul singer Nigerian roots, Caleb Kunle, who will offer a mix of modern funk, neo-soul, and indie jazz. Another Irish representative, Max Zaska, will bring a blend of R&B and experimental electronic music to the stage.

The Czech scene will be represented by the young pop duo Blue Uandi, oscillating between R&B and experimental electronica.

Line-up for Open Air Karlovo náměstí
2:40 p.m. Blue Uandi/CZ
3:40 p.m. Gustav Brom Radio Big Band & Aid Kid/CZ
5:10 p.m. Zaska/IE
6:25 p.m. Caleb Kunle/IE
7:45 p.m. Molotov Jukebox/GB

The General Conference of UNESCO established International Jazz Day, whose ambassador is Grammy award-winning American musician, Herbie Hancock, 12 years ago.

Hundreds of cities around the world, from the U.S. and Europe to Australia, participate in its celebrations. The Open Air event organized by the Mladí ladí jazz festival at Karlovo náměstí is an official International Jazz Day event under the patronage of UNESCO and is one of the largest events worldwide.

Molotov Jukebox, the six-member band from London, fearlessly mixes Romani melodies with swing, dubstep, calypso, Latin soul, and disco to create a unique and energetic blend that has won over music fans at prestigious festivals such as Glastonbury, Eurosonic, and Womad.

The group is led by the well-known actress Tena, who played the quick-witted Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter fantasy series and Osha of the Free Folk in the cult Game of Thrones series. She can currently be seen in Czech cinemas in the action film "John Wick: Chapter 4."

Also slated to perform is Kunle, an artist who draws inspiration from three places he calls home – Nigeria's main city Lagos, London, and the Irish county of Laois.

A brief history of jazz in Czechia
Jazz has a long history in the Czech Republic, dating back to the First Republic era.
Big bands played swing music at clubs such as Lucerna and provided music for Czechoslovak films in the 1930s.
Jazz went underground during World War II, but a few bands could still perform openly if they followed some restrictions.
Jazz was better tolerated than rock music in the communist era, and instrumental bands had the best luck.
The jazz club Reduta opened in 1958 and is still in operation.
Jazz musicians could still get state-sanctioned licenses even after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion. Some Czech jazz musicians went to the West and remained abroad.

The Irish band Zaska, led by guitarist, composer, and producer Max Zaska, serves up a relaxed mixture of modern funk, neo-soul, and indie jazz on their recordings. Their songs are often interpreted by rising Irish stars, such as Zaska's first singer, now renowned Irish artist Hozier.

Beer, cider, prosecco, and diverse food stalls, will be available on-site. Stylish merchandise, including a limited edition of Braasi backpacks with original Mladí ladí jazz designs, caps, shirts, and patches will be on sale. Guests can also have an original motif embroidered onto their own clothing or a t-shirt from the Crashily thrift store, in collaboration with the Něžný rebel brand.

The program at Karlovo náměstí will be broadcast live on Český rozhlas Vltava, and the stream will also be available on the Mladí ladí jazz Facebook page. While admission to the festival is free, attendees can support the event by purchasing voluntary tickets. More information about the open-air concert and the autumn festival, which takes place on Oct. 28 this year at Holešovice Market, can be found at www.mladiladijazz.cz.

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