South Bohemian Jazz Festival – Friday August 5, 2022

South Bohemian Jazz Festival – Friday August 5, 2022

South Bohemian Jazz Festival ČEZ 2022, Piarist Square, České Budějovice, Friday August 5, 2022

The programme of this year’s South Bohemian Jazz Festival ran for a whole week from Monday August 1 in various historical places in České Budějovice to Sunday, August 7 in Hluboká nad Vltavou. The organisers are trying to attract new audiences at attractive places in the South Bohemian Region, for example on the Treetop Trail in Lipno nad Vltavou.

Friday and Saturday’s main programme of this year’s South Bohemian Jazz Festival, traditionally held on the historic Piarist Square, once again brought a varied international showcase of contemporary jazz. The big magnet of Friday’s programme was the Cuban Harold Lopéz-Nussa Quintet, whose performance was cancelled by Covid two days before its date. In an immeasurable effort, the organizers hastily arranged a replacement in the form of the Austrian band Marina and The Cats, who only managed to play four songs at last year’s South Bohemian Jazz Festival because their concert was abruptly ended by a severe thunderstorm.

Friday’s concert was opened by the international quartet Efe Turumtay – violin, Cenk Erdogan – guitars, Tomáš Liška – bass, András Dés – drums, percussion. Their own compositions uniquely combine the musical cultures of Turkey and the Czech Republic with Hungarian rhythms, as they convincingly demonstrated in Piarist Square. All four virtuoso musicians strived for collective interplay. Interesting were the conversations between the Turkish members, the violinist with the guitarist, the Czech bassist and then the Hungarian drummer. Especially impressive was the playing of Cenk Erdogan on a fretless acoustic guitar. Excellent opening of the Friday evening.

Michal Kratochvíl: It was very disappointing to find out that Harold Lopez-Nussa can’t come, so we will have to settle for the hastily arranged Marina and The Kats. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though, because the first day of the festival’s main program was opened by the absolutely great band of Tomáš Liška. This international project will finally release a new album in the autumn and you definitely have something to look forward to. Just like recently in Jazzdock, music full of charming melodies with a hint of the Orient poured through Piarist Square in České Budějovice. A wonderful performance full of virtuosity, which, however, primarily serves the music and the performers‘ solos are always enriching the songs and filled with emotions. Cenk in particular amazes everyone present with his playing on the fretless guitar, whose sound and possibilities are almost limitless. When necessary, they all know how to push the envelope and make the mood really pop. I really appreciate the variety of this jazz world music, which is achieved by the compositions of all members. In the end, the musicians managed to make the whole square sing and this highlight of the first day remains unsurpassed. In my opinion, the order of the bands should have been exactly reversed (which was not possible anyway, because Tomáš Liška was in a hurry to play with Robert Křesťan in nearby Hluboká nad Vltavou).

The second concert on Friday brought Ondřej Štveráček Quartet on stage with the usual line-up (Ondřej Štveráček – saxophones; Pavel Wlosok – keyboards; Josef Fečo – bass guitar; Marek Urbánek – drums) augmented by singer, rapper, beatboxer and dancer Andy Ninvalle from Guyana. Their SPACE PROJECT attempting to combine modern jazz with rap and beatboxing was not convincing for me, but most of the audience in the crowded square was well entertained, probably by its originality in the Czech environment and virtuoso solos of all band members.

Michal Kratochvíl: Space Project by Ondřej Štveráček unfortunately didn’t impress me much and rapper Andy Ninvalle often seemed to me that he was just an extra. This combination worked well only in the last song of the concert. Initially the band broke out with a tight groove and gave Andy the space to introduce himself. It was a position in which I don’t know Ondřej very well yet and it didn’t fit me in the next thing when Andy was doing beatboxing. I just plain and simple felt it didn’t work. In the moments when the stacked Quartet played without the rapper, it was more friendly to my ears. But maybe my hearing was deceiving me, because the audience response to the concert was not bad at all, nor was the „headliner“ of the night.

The hastily summoned Austrian neo swing band Marina & The Kats, replacing the ailing Harold Lopez-Nussa Quintet, launched their dance show with their own enthusiasm. The quartet consisting of Marina Zettl – vocals, drums, Thomas Mauerhofer – guitar, vocals, Michael Mozeth – bass, drums, vocals, Harald Baumgartner – drums, vocals convincingly danced with their catchy rhythms to many appreciative spectators. A cheerful, swinging dance party on Piarist Square pleasantly ended the Friday evening.

Michal Kratochvíl: Marina and the Kats wrapped most of the audience around their fingers with their charm and this „alternative“ rock band with occasional hints of jazz literally danced around Piarist Square. It was a nice relief at the end. Even simple music presented with due enthusiasm brings joy and the dancing audience was clearly satisfied. I, however, foolishly expected something more and did not get it, so I went to save my strength for the second day of the festival.