Smoldas bebops through the classiC`



Smoldas bebops through the classiC`
up II....
''We'regonna play some more for you, and - Urbanek toggles back and forth between the
I just have to warn you - it's going to get.
different soundS on his electric keyboard and
hotter and hotter in here," Graves declares m
appears just as comfortable with funky
Czech, then~glish, after her opening num- . Hammond organ riffs. and quiet xylophone
ber. Then the band takes off again with a
interpretatiolisas he is with piano-driven jazZ
bluesy, soulful rei:ldition of "Knock on .
standards. TIchota's bass chops alternately
Wood," featuring a blistering six -string bass
cOmplement the music and steal'the show,
solo from Zdenek "Wimpy" TIchota
both in perfect measUre.
Best known as a vocalist for the Czech
Drummer Michal Hejna is energetic and
funk band Monkey Business, the New York
varied on the ki~and he even manages dou. native has been moonlighting on smaller
ble duty in the absence of Pavel PIanka, the
stages lately with a new soul, funk: and blu~
'missing percussion Desperado. Sensing an
cover band: Tonya Graves and H~r Rhythm. .'. Q~amid
Desperados. Tonight they're ~mg .,. ': :-,.
ft9Jtf~ the
with aI1<.'
. drums, tapping the ride cyinb~l\~1j1h one stick
1l!lf~'flMtllnity to WenceslasSquare
as he shuffles toward the percussIOn set on
'This one Is for the ladies," !he uys
presenting a rendition of ''Cry Me a River"
that casts the lyrics in a whole new light. One
of the 'ladies' whoops. Graves giggles and
then reinterprets the classic as anything but
the traditionally weepy lament of a woman
done wrong. Her body language, raised eyebrow and indignant tone suggest that these are
the words of a woman who is letting you
know you've blown it. It is a perfect example
of the power-of the timeless songs on Graves'
playlist: classics that always please but that in
the right hands can still take meaning.
Courtney Powell can be reached at
[email protected]
I.'~~!'j: , ,,,=,,
Smoldas bebops through the classiC'
''Bebop is, I think, the most important jazz era." His repertoire reflects
that belief, including many standards of the '50s New Yorkjazz era.
Smoldas' current lineup is impressive as well, with Radek Zapadlo
One of the fastest-rising talents on the Prague jazz scene is a strongon sax, the revered Najponk on piano, Jm Slavieek on drums and
heJded guitarist who maintains that bebop is "a gate you have to go . Honzak on bass.
through to get to the otherjazzstyles."·
"Segmen~" a rarely performed CharIieParker song,isa good examIt's a topic that 21-year-old Libor Smo1dasknows well, having been
ple of the group's versatility. '1t's quite a simple harmony, the same as
strumming since age 14, Though still a student at the esteemed
a song called 'Be-Bop,'" Smoldas says/1t's a great theme and you
Iaroslav JeZek Conservatory ,in Prague, where he studies at a newly
can do such a lot of stuff with it. I also love Coltrane's compositions."
created department headei:I by the ~
bassist Jaromir Honzak,
ChalIenges intrigue Srnoldas, however, and l1e has no second
5moldas plays regularly in jazz clubs, performing next at U MaMho
thoughts about throwing occasional "hard harmony" to the crowds.
Gleria Friday, Sept. 5.
Admitting that he sometimes pays more attention to the preferences of
"Like everyone, I started with rock," he recalls. ''Nrrvana and stuff
the guys in the band than those of the audience, Smol~ adds,
like that Then I learned the blues." While still a teenager, Smoldas
"Playing difficult harmony is fun."
perfonno:! with Prague blues singer Cleanhead Phil, helping establish
. His performances are mostly quite approachable, though, and
the act aSa favorite at the fanner Zoo Bar in Old Town.
include a good helping of the classics. "All jazz standards are grea~"
The progression to jazz guitar was inspired after Smoldas got into
Smo\das says. "It only depends on you how you play i~ the modem
albums by the greats (and not all guitar-players): Charlie Parker, Wes
way or the old way."
Montgomery, Jim Hall, Tal Farlow.
Will Tizard can be reached at [email protected],com
- '1 love saxophone players - Dexter Gordon, Coltrane," he says.