Prague's fall jazz lineup strikes the right notes for lovers of the genre

Three upcoming festivals bring some of the most innovative and well-respected contemporary jazz artists to top Prague venues.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 17.10.2023 16:33:00 (updated on 18.10.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Though the Czech Republic has long been considered one of the cradles of classical music, the country's jazz scene is not to be underestimated. Prague is home to numerous venues devoted to everything from acid jazz to continental and every genre in between.

This autumn some truly world-class and exceptional local talents are set to grace the stages of the Czech capital thanks to several upcoming festivals showcasing the best of the international and domestic jazz scenes.

The events are sure to strike all the right notes for aficionados, bringing the autumnal sounds of some of the most innovative and well-respected artists working in jazz today to premier Prague stages.

Oct. 28 Mladí ladí jazz

Mladí ladí jazz is celebrating its 15th anniversary in grand style by hosting a one-day indoor festival at Holešovická Tržnice in Prague. The festival will feature nine hours of musical performances across three stages in the industrial halls of the Prague Market.

Acts include British multi-instrumentalist Alfa Mist, American bassist MonoNeon, French-Algerian electronic group Acid Arab, singer-songwriter Yarah Bravo, and pianist Maria Chiara Argirò.

Artists from New Zealand, Belgium, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic will also perform. A visual art exhibition and guided tours of The Chemistry Gallery's collection nearby is also slated.

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Černomořská, Praha 10 - Vršovice

With performers fusing jazz, electronics, hip hop, R&B, and more, Mladí ladí FEST promises to deliver inspired musical collaborations in a vibrant festival atmosphere fitting for the organization's 15th-anniversary celebrations. The boundary-pushing Mladí ladí jazz festival has featured performers who defy genre categorization for 15 years.

Nov. 3-10 Jazz On5

Jazz Dock Club in Prague 5 on the Vltava River is teaming up to host the Jazz On5 music festival. World-renowned stars like two-time Grammy winner Kurt Elling, legendary guitarist John Scofield, and Brooklyn groove band Kennedy Administration will take the stage over eight nights.

"Stylistically, Jazz On5 will be a colorful mosaic where every audience member can find their genre – from modern jazz, fusion, pop-soul, blues to funk," says Jazz Dock manager Jakub Lederer. The festival kicks off Nov. 3 with acclaimed pianist and composer James Francies and his trio making their Czech Republic debut.

Other highlights include the seven-piece French group Malted Milk mixing classic blues with modern sounds, and workshops led by drummer Daniel Šoltis and New York organist Brian Charette.

The evening programs include a tribute to Wayne Shorter by top Czech saxophonists and a set from domestic "Jazz Legends" Emil Viklický, Jana Koubková, and Jiří Stivín. Later performances see sets from Grammy winners Kurt Elling and Charlie Hunter's SuperBlue alongside performances by the Kennedy Administration and a closing show from guitar icon John Scofield.

Nov. 1-18 Prague Sounds

Though not exclusively devoted to jazz (the festival's lineup also features artists from contemporary music, hip-hop, and electronica) The Prague Sounds festival's headliners have a strong jazz pedigree.

Ron Carter, the iconic bass player, holds a Guinness World Record for recording bass lines on over 2,222 records, though he's more renowned for his boundless love of music and exceptional musicianship. He's graced the stage with luminaries like Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Joe Henderson, leaving an indelible mark on jazz history. Carter takes the stage on Nov. 3 at Rudolfinum.

Other jazz-tinged acts include Benjamin Clementine, a Mercury Prize winner fusing classical, chamber pop, baroque, and jazz (called by critics Nina Simone in male form), and Angelique Kidjo, the renowned African singer and recent recipient of the Polar Music Prize, a global sensation known for her Afrobeat, jazz, and funk fusion who reinterprets the Talking Heads 1980s album Remain in Light.

Czechoslovakia's jazz history dates back to the 1920s and 1930s, influenced by figures like Jaroslav Ježek and Rudolf Antonín Dvorský. Jazz was briefly banned during Nazi occupation but revived with the performance of Graeme Bell's Dixieland Jazz Band in 1947. The genre thrived, notably during the Prague Spring in the 1960s when it became associated with dissident movements. The Jazz Section of the Czech Musician's Union was founded in 1971, promoting jazz and expanding into publishing. The government approved of the Jazz Section due to its preference for jazz over rock music but later cracked down on it, ultimately dissolving the organization in 1984. Despite government pressure, jazz enthusiasts persisted in their love for the genre, even during the communist era.

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