Markus Stockhausen at Dobršská brána 2022

Markus Stockhausen at Dobršská brána 2022

Festival Dobršská brána 2022, Dobrš, Saturday August 20, 2022

Saturday’s festival programme in Dobrš traditionally opens in the morning with an vernissage in the CoCo Gallery at Dobrš Chateau. This year, the curator of the exhibition, PhDr. Lucie Šiklová, PhD., has prepared an exhibition focused on landscapes, so she has invited authors who have been dealing with landscapes for a long time: Mariana Alasseur, Dagmar Šubrtová, Barbora Němcová, Petr Gruber, Julia Kopová, Jakub Stretti, Marta Zechová, Mirek Kaufman, David Frank and Martin Velíšek. The original views of contemporary artists on the „landscape“ theme at the joint exhibition gave visitors much food for thought. Moreover, the German trumpeter Markus Stockhausen prepared his concert under the castle windows very carefully.

Michal Kratochvíl: The weather forecast for this day looked promising, but unfortunately the reality was different, and the second day in Dobrš was also very rainy. As it has become a tradition, the festival includes an opening in the CoCo gallery in the castle/fortress. This year, of all the years, it caught my attention the most, with impressive works of landscapes by various artists. We were able to enjoy a soundtrack by Markus Stockhausen while browsing through the gallery, and then enjoyed it right in front of the gallery at the stage. I was amazed by the precision of Markus as he addressed every detail and moment of the band’s sound. When I saw him that involved, I was certain that he had a clear idea and vision for his music that he intended to fulfil without compromise. I can already reveal that he has succeeded without a doubt, even with the help of the great sound engineer Honza Středa!

The first musical number of Saturday’s programme was not a concert, but a workshop with Miroslav Hloucal in the hall of the local pub U Dražných, where he expertly explained typical trumpet phrases and jazz improvisation techniques in the various stages of jazz development. Many audience members were happy to join in the subsequent, interesting discussion. A pleasant diversification of the festival.

Michal Kratochvíl:  After this inspiring experience with the sound check/rehearsal of Markus‘ band, we moved to the pub for a workshop (or rather a talk) by Míra Hloucal. He managed to introduce the trumpet in an engaging and informative way even to complete laymen, and the trumpeters in the audience supplied him with interesting questions. Originally, I thought it would be just a time filler until the opening of the concerts, but on the contrary, it was very interesting, engaging and informative.

Saturday’s first concert was performed in the Dobrš church by an international quartet: Czech trumpeter Jiří Kotača, Swedish guitarist Alf Carlsson and Slovak bassist Peter Korman and drummer Kristián Kuruc. The joint studies of Jiří Kotača and Alf Carlsson in Rotterdam and the numerous concerts together since then have fine-tuned the focus and integrity of the quartet. Their original jazz showed us a successful combination of Scandinavian music with Moravian folklore, enriched with live electronics. A truly impressive performance in a church venue.

Michal Kratochvíl: The musical programme then began in the church, where the Jiří Kotača/Alf Carlsson quartet presented their melodic jazz at its best. I enjoy their work immensely because of the juiciness and colourfulness of their compositions. They also presented us some new stuff, which they will surely release on another album soon, because this band is not just a one-off project. It’s very pleasant and sophisticated music, even if it seems very accessible. Their concept just suits me, and it was a wonderful experience in a church venue with exquisite lighting.

The third usual venue for the Dobršská brána concerts is the hill by the Chapel of St. John and St. Paul, a bell tower with three memorable bells, a place offering its extraordinary energy to all those who are receptive. And it was here that two talented young musicians from Germany played their interesting compositions: trumpeter Jakob Bänsch and pianist Niklas Roever. Their music seeks to combine classical music with the energy of modern jazz. They showed their musical potential very well at the Dobrš Chapel, keep it up. It was an apt preparation for the main three Saturday concerts at the castle.

Michal Kratochvíl: The youngsters Jakob Bänsch and Niklas Roever finally managed to arrive in Dobrš only a little late after a harrowing 800-kilometers journey. On the stage at the bell tower, they made the afternoon more enjoyable with their jazzing and presentations of their own compositions. A nice and delicious diversification of the program, if you stop for blackberries on the way to the bell tower.

The great sound engineer Honza Středa prepared excellent acoustic experiences for us on Saturday evening at the Dobrš castle. The first of them was a fine-tuned performance of a purely Czech jazz band of three generations Miroslav Hloucal & Emil Viklický Quartet. The excellent trumpeter Miroslav Hloucal and legendary pianist Emil Viklický were well supported in their mainstream ride by double bassist Josef Fečo and young drummer Martin Fečo. The gentlemen gave us jazz of european extra class, thank you. Apologies to all those interested in the video preview below, the rain forced the ladies in the third row to spread their red umbrella high, I didn’t have time to move the tripod.

Michal Kratochvíl: We then moved swiftly to the main stage, where the organizers were trying to make up for a slight delay and where the Czech masters of their craft were waiting for us. Mirek and Emil are doing a great job with their jazz full of original compositions and they are doing great together, of course, with some support from the bassist and drummer from the Fečo clan. The performance was great, except for the miserable rain, which made it unpleasant and we couldn’t even see the stage through the umbrellas.

The penultimate number of the festival, once again a perfectly tuned concert of the quartet of German trumpeter Markus Stockhausen. His Tales was a clear artistic culmination of this year’s Dobršská brána. The beautiful harmonious compositions of Markus and the group improvisations of his quartet, with equal contributions from Dutch pianist Jeroen van Vliet, first-time substitute cellist Levan Andria and drummer Christian Thomé, were a perfect caress and an extraordinary musical experience. I encourage everyone to listen to the video sample below and to attend some of their other performances at your earliest convenience.

Michal Kratochvíl: But then something happened that makes me still enjoy going to see music and attend the festivals like this. As I wrote earlier, the band rehearsal suggested a lot… Markus Stockhausen presented his recent album Tales at the festival. The wonderful music rang through Dobrš and carried pleasantly through the countryside. Suddenly, even on that day, the weepy village in the Pošumaví region turned into a paradise, the weather calmed down for a while and allowed us to experience almost the whole extraordinary experience and magical concert without annoying umbrellas and raincoats. Beautiful melodies, well-composed and thought-out music in every detail, precisely presented live, was absolutely captivating and I was glowing with bliss. The lovely, almost heavenly tone of Markus‘ trumpet and the addition of cello, piano and drums. It sounded to me like an angel’s song from heaven, so beautifully did the tones carry and blend with the early evening atmosphere and venue. The improvised piece sent chills down my spine. What the gentlemen unleashed was otherworldly and it was felt by all the audience as the ovation was absolutely enthusiastic and spontaneous. The following beautiful composition, Better world, only confirmed this and an incredible moment occurred when the whole band went quiet and the cello played solo. There was an absolute silence that you could hear a pin drop and those lean notes carried us into that silence. The sound of the whole concert, and especially this moment, was excellent and the master sound engineer Honza Středa did an incredible job. BRAVO! I knew a long time ago that we were witnessing one of the concerts of the year! And we were still waiting for the ballad There’s always hope, in which the cellist sang in Georgian and once again I got chills. Unfortunately, the rain came again, but it couldn’t ruin the incredible experience. At the very end, the band prepared a rocking Revolution and although the rain was considerably unpleasant, I wished this concert would never end!

The final performance of the festival brought the charming Spanish singer and trumpeter Andrea Motis to the Dobrš Castle stage. With her energetic band consisting of Christoph Mallinger – guitar, mandolin, violin; Kevin Diaz – keyboards; Stephan Kondert – bass guitar; Miguel Asensio – drums, Andrea launched into captivating pop-jazz songs in her mother tongue, Catalan, but also in Spanish, English and German, which she perfectly lifted with her trumpet. The dance-hungry audience was in for a treat. Her rendition of José Barros‘ well-known El Pescador and George Gerschwin’s encore of Summertime can be found in the video preview below. It was a nice end to Saturday’s program.

Michal Kratochvíl: I have to admit that I approached Andrea Motis‘ concert with some prejudices and fears, but knowing that the concert program will focus on new material from the Loopholes album gave me hope. I’m not a big fan of the interpretation of standards, which is what she is primarily known for, and I was worried that the concert might go like that. However, I am happy to say that Andrea may have finally found her voice, and although many fans of her previous work will not like it, I hope she follows the path she has set om this album. I myself was surprised by how much I enjoyed the Loopholes album for the most part of it, and this was translated into the live presentation, even if the band’s formation is altered from the studio recording. She introduced Babies beautifully as a new mum and explained how she came to think about life and creation. Christoph put in a proper effort on guitar and played decent licks in the previous Loopholes too. Andrea nimbly jumps from vocals to trumpet and vice versa, though in this project I felt the trumpet was in more of a supporting role. The announced 4 languages really came into play as she sang the song Jungla in Catalan, Calima, which is a sandstorm in the Canary Islands, was in German for a change as it was composed by Christoph who showed his talent on three instruments. In addition to the guitar, he also rocked out on the violin and even the mandolin. And in my opinion the most enjoyable thing on the whole album, El Pescador, is, not to be confused, in Spanish. The encore was Summertime, but in a modified „Loopholes“ version. In the end, it was a really good concert and a fitting end to the whole festival.

The sixth year of Dobršská brána was ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC, I would even dare to say that it was the best in the last four years that I had the opportunity to see and experience in the charming village of Pošumaví. Thank you to Ivo Kraml, Michaela Ditrichová and all their collaborators for a great cultural experience.

Michal Kratochvíl: This year’s edition of Dobršská brána was for me the strongest musical experience so far, and despite the vagaries of the weather, I was able to enjoy it thanks to my great musical friends, whom I meet regularly in Dobrš. And I look forward to seeing you again next year!