To celebrate his 70th birthday on June 19, President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic hosted a jazz concert at the Prague Castle, the counterpart of the US White House. A respected economist, Klaus is a devoted and knowledgeable jazz listener who plays the piano. He has done much to bring attention to the contributions of Czech musicians. To the left, we see him in 2009 presenting the Golden Plaque of the President of the Republic to George Mraz, a Czech native living in the US who is one of the world’s most celebrated bassists.
Several years ago, Klaus initiated a regular series of jazz concerts at the Castle, with pianist Emil Viklický’s trio headlining. Viklický has played at several of the events since, mostly recently in May in one of the celebrations leading up to observance of the president’s birthday. It was a tribute to Miles Davis with Viklický, Czech baritone saxophonist Jaroslav Jakubovic, and three visiting Americans, trumpeter Jon Faddis, bassist Tom Barney and drummer Lenny White. They allude to the Gil Evans arrangement of “Summertime” for Davis’s Porgy and Bess album, with Jakubovic reprising the Evans orchestral obbligato behind Faddis and playing a solo that may have listeners wondering where he’s been hiding.