Other Places: Europe

Among Rifftides readers in Europe are the proprietors of three web logs helpful to those who wish to keep up with developments on the continent.

Tony Emmerson’s Prague Jazz concentrates on music in the Czech Republic. George Mraz,

Emmerson.jpg Emil Viklický, Frantisek Uhlir, Gustav Brom, Miroslav Vitouš and a few other Czech musicians are widely known. Emmerson (pictured) writes about them, but he also keeps tabs on the current crop of players known mainly in Eastern Europe. He sometimes stretches the definition of what many listeners consider jazz, but he’s on top of developments. Here is an excerpt from a piece about a band at the new Charles Bridge Jazz Club.

As well as a good venue a good evening requires a good band, and the Luboš Andršt Blues Band certainly falls into this category. We here at Prague Jazz are proud fans of the mighty Luboš and the musicians he usually plays with. With him for this concert were perennially funky electric bassist Wimpy Tichota, drum powerhouse Pavel Razím, and Jan Holeček on keys and vocals.

What the band delivered was three sets of hard-hitting electric blues, ranging from gospel spirituals to a rocking blast of “Cross Road Blues” (R. Johnson). Their arrangement was very close to the Cream interpretation that has become known as the definitive version to many people. Luboš’s improvised solo was dazzling, while Holeček wailed the lyrics with passion. His voice is very similar to a young Robert Plant, and he could no doubt make a good living in a Led Zeppelin tribute band if he was so inclined.

Emmerson also sometimes posts photographs of Czech musicians in action, like this one of the amazing singer Iva Bittová and Mraz in a recent concert in Bern with Emil Viklický’s trio. 


Laco Tropp and Iva Bittová, photograph by Benno

To visit Prague Jazz, click here.

The German trumpeter Bruno Leicht (pictured) has a blog with the cumbersome name, Bruno
Leicht presents His Old & New Swingin’ Dreams
. He posts at irregular intervals, alternates 


between German and English and devotes himself more to American jazz from the classic and bebop periods than to what is happening now in Germany. Still, he manages to unearth interesting audio clips and videos and occasionally comes up with anecdotes that make his pages worth a visit. An example: His encounter with Chet Baker.

The band seemed to be stoned which didn’t seem to bother Chet. He was more worried about his horn which didn’t work properly. He sat there, pushing the valves, then he grabbed the mike and asked something like: “Some trumpet player around?” I was seated right in front of him and said: “Yes!” He intended to play on my trumpet and so I fetched it from the checkroom and handed it over to him. He took it, looked at it and counted: “One, two, three, four!” into a very fast and boppish “Conception,” George Shearing’s masterpiece, a tune as closely connected to Miles Davis as it was to Chet Baker.

He played it in the key of C, that’s what I remember. After the tune, he waved my trumpet over his head, smiled at me in a sardonic way and pretended dashing my horn in some corner. I was quite shocked but of course got the joke in the same second. This was my first real instrument, a Getzen Capri but with a little hole in the middle tube.

What do I remember yet? He played the rest of the concert on his own horn and … he kept my valve oil. When I arrived later at home I found it gone. Chet Baker, a thief!

To check out Bruno Leicht’s blog, go here.

In Russia, the editor of Jazz.Ru magazine, Cyril Moshkow (could that be his real name?)

Moshkow.jpgoperates an extensive web site in Russian. But, Moshkow (pictured) tells, Rifftides,

For those disadvantaged by little or no Russian, we do have a safe (however tiny) harbor in English. At least we mean it to keep our Western visitors informed on what we do, but, alas, I cannot say that we update the English section too often.

Nonetheless, the site has helpful tidbits like this:

FAQ: IS THERE JAZZ IN RUSSIA, REALLY? The answer is “YES”. The first jazz concert in Russia took place in Moscow on October 1, 1922. The band was local, called no less than The First Jazz Band of the Republic, led by not a musician, but a dancer, 


one Valentin Parnakh (1891-1951)(pictured), who also was a gifted poet, poetry translator, and literature historian, and spend seven years (from 1915 to 1922) in Western Europe. That band was later employed by the great theatre director, Vsevolod Meyerhold, in one of his plays where the sounds of live jazz should represent the “Western reality.” The band included piano, saxophone, clarinet, trombone and a trap set. One of the musicians known to be a part of this band was pianist Yevgeny Gabrilovich (1899-1993), later a successful playwright and movie screenplay writer.

Moshkow’s magazine concentrates on contemporary Russian jazz of all stripes. The current online edition in English, for instance, has short pieces on tenor saxophonist Igor Butman and the multi-instrumentalist Arkady Shilkloper, two of Russia’s best-known jazz players.

We will add the web addresses of these sites to the list in the Rifftides center column of links to Other Places.

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  1. says

    What a nice surprise! Thanks for posting my entry. Well, the German articles are mainly for my trumpet students. The audio I had embedded there is for everyone.
    Anyway, I’m an European, a German to be precise. But I admit that I’m heavily influenced by American jazz, since it was the music I started to listen to mostly from the tender age of 13 on.
    Nevertheless, I try to reflect my own musical heritage of a Monteverdi, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms or Mahler in my own compositions, be it kinda functional-harmonic, ‘normal’ standard-like pieces, a simple – or not so simple? – blues or the other kind, the free stuff I’m doing as well.

  2. Cyril Moshkow says

    Oh yes, Moshkow is my real name. Almost. In my legal IDs, it’s Moshkov. Thing is, W and V are the same letter in Cyrillic alphabet (coincidentally, it looks just like Latin B). So I have chosen Moshkow as Latin rendering of my last name, just because it looked cooler — and Cyril as my English name as a substitute for my Russian first name, Kirill, which I was tired of explaining the spelling of. It’s the same name anyway: St. Cyril the First Teacher of Slavs is called Kyrillos in original Greek, and Kirill in most Slavic languages.

  3. Ed Leimbacher says

    What the world needs now is Jazz, swingin’ Jazz… the international language which has supplanted Esperanto. And what a pleasure to read this notes-across-the-ocean comity of comments!