All compositions by Jaroslav Ježek except 15 Libor Šmoldas
Libor Šmoldas guitars
and guests: David Dorůžka guitar (5), Robert Balzar acoustic bass (9), Tomáš Mika guitar (14)
It began for me in 2014 while I was on tour in the USA and lectured at a university in Pennsylvania. Students asked me if there was any purely Czech jazz, or whether we jazz musicians from the Czech Republic benefit exclusively from US and foreign traditions. Good question, I did not know how to answer it at that moment. It was only later that I realized that before I fell in love with the music of Charlie Parker, Chet Baker, Miles Davis and other greats of American jazz, I listened to jazz of premium quality and yet wholly Czech – music of a genius musician, Jaroslav Jezek. I listened to songs from the Liberated Theatre and such music for films by Voskovec & Werich (of which Jezek was composer) accompanied my childhood – I loved it. And a cassette with Jezek’s songs played over and over again – I still know all the lyrics by heart. Without my realizing it, I had grown in my relationship to jazz a long time before I decided to become a professional guitarist. It was paradoxically the American students who reminded me of Jezek again. I went back to him often in my thoughts, began to listen to his amazing music again and became interested in how he lived (It is an interesting coincidence that the impulse came to me in America, the country with which Jezek's fate was also linked). Jaroslav Jezek was an incredibly talented and hardworking man with a troubled fate. Few people today, even in the Czech Republic, know that he was primarily a composer of classical music and wrote those brilliant songs of the Liberated Theatre on the side. Nor that he studied with Alois Haba, a great promoter of Czech micro-intervalic music, nor that the great Benny Goodman was interested in Jezek's work, though sadly, after the composer’s death. There is no need to re-write Jezek's biography, which is best read about in books by Vaclav Holzknecht and Franz Cinger. My growing interest in Jezek brought me to places that played a significant role in his life. He was a man intrinsically linked with Prague and its culture. In his perfectly preserved Blue Room on Kaprova street in Prague, we not only soaked up the atmosphere, but also took photos for this album. I also searched in America. In eastern Pennsylvania I was looking for a cottage in Point Pleasant, where Jezek briefly lived together with Voskovec and Werich, and where he used to like to return when he could for recreation. (The house probably doesn’t exist anymore but it was good to visit the area.) I also visited the place where he lived in New York, as well as the hospital in Manhattan where he died. It was a very personal experience for me. This year (2016) we will mark 110 years since the birth of Jezek. His most fertile period began at the age of about twenty years, and he was only thirty-five when he died. Today, as I am thirty-three, I realize more how few people manage to create so much in such a short time. It is our great loss that we did not have Jezek here longer. In retrospect, it is clear that his songs withstand the test of time and his music speaks to people today as well as it did at the time of its inception. A parallel is at hand with American jazz standards. In my opinion Jezek’s songs are at least just as good and deserve to be played and interpreted in a modern manner by contemporary jazz players. Which other country enjoys a jazz composer of such quality? I have nothing but respect and admiration for Jezek. I hope that my relationship to his music shows in this record, and I would like to dedicate this album to his legacy. Libor Šmoldas 2015
V roce 2016 uplyne 110 let od narození legendárního skladatele Jaroslava Ježka. K oslavám jeho výročí se náš přední jazzový kytarista a skladatel Libor Šmoldas rozhodl připojit svým novým albem, v pořadí sice již sedmým, zato prvním sólovým. Album nazval BLUE: Šmoldas hraje Ježka, vybral pro ně čtrnáct Ježkových skladeb a připojil i jednu vlastní kompozici, věnovanou právě dvornímu skladateli Osvobozeného divadla. Nahrávka je ojedinělá už tím, že sólové kytaře se v oblasti jazzu u nás nikdo jiný nevěnuje, a dokonce i ve světě se kvůli náročnosti této disciplíny najde jen několik málo kytaristů, kteří hrají a natáčejí sami bez doprovodu. V tomto případě se navíc jedná o hru bez pomoci jakýchkoliv kytarových efektů, looperů a podobně. Šmoldas si k projektu přizval tři hosty z řad našich špičkových jazzmanů – kytaristy Davida Dorůžku a Tomáše Miku a kontrabasistu Roberta Balzara. Ke skladbám pro sólovou kytaru tak mohl na albu připojit i tři duety.