Every recording I make is somehow an affectionate portrait of the people and places around me at that time, and of the musicians I am playing and recording with. It is also a summation of the feelings I have about my life experiences at that moment. Surely I can say that this recording, Czech Dreams, was 50 years in the making, but developed in the most intense way during a six-week period in Prague.
During the academic year 2011–2012, I was permitted a full-year sabbatical from my teaching position at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. I spent much of the year going back and forth between the U.S. and Prague. Previously, I had recorded, toured and performed often throughout the Czech Republic, generally during short, two-week trips. I already had a lot of friends and professional contacts throughout the country. I knew that my sabbatical year in Prague would be precious and too short, but I suspected that I would have the experience of a lifetime.
What transpired was something bigger than I could ever have asked for, and I established deep connections with many people, including so many musicians.
And so, this recording is in many ways a love story, a dedication to the Czech People, and to some of my closest friends anywhere on this small planet.
Beginning in June 2011, I performed often throughout the Czech Republic and Germany, and with a variety of musicians. I knew I wanted to try new combinations before I recorded anything new. After performing in December with the quartet of my good friend, guitarist Libor Šmoldas, I decided that Libor would play an important role on my new recording. Our playing styles represented yin and yang, and that tension proved to be inspiring for me.
Returned to Prague in January 2012, I was constantly playing and giving workshops. From January to August 2012, my travels took me all over the Czech Republic, to the Slovak Republic, to Berlin, and to Bavaria, in addition to trips up and down the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S.
I wasn’t yet certain how I would pull off a recording during this busy period of constant traveling and performing. Most of my previous recordings developed over six to eight month periods. Not this one. The recording you have in front of you came together in about six weeks.
Though I had already composed two new pieces in the fall of 2011, I hadn’t yet selected musicians at that time. Libor and I met for a brief rehearsal in early February 2012 and I told him of my plans. During the next four weeks, I wrote nine new pieces – sometimes as many as two or three per day. Meantime, I invited two other friends to record with me – bassist Tomáš “Kaštan” Baroš and drummer Tomáš Hobzek. I loved Kaštan’s flexibility and deep groove, and I knew that Tomáš Hobzek was especially able to interpret my music adeptly. Thus with Libor, Kaštan and Tomáš, I found the perfect combination for the kind of music that I wanted to compose and record.
I also invited my good friend and touring and recording partner, saxophonist Rosťa Fraš, to play on three pieces. Furthermore, after a conversation with Maruška Puttnerová, a talented Moravian singer, I decided to write two pieces that would include her.
Though I was not yet finished composing, the quartet had its first rehearsal in late February. We looked at our tour schedules and realized that we were going to have to record on March 12–13. No recording I have ever made of original material would come together so quickly. Surely it is a testament to the extraordinary musicianship of my recording partners, and to the skills of the recording engineer Lukáš Martínek. Methodical and gifted, it was a pleasure to record with Lukáš at Studio Svárov.
￼1 Musíme 6:23
2 Haven‘t You…? 5:32
3 Nikdo neví 5:02
4 You Will Find It 3:32
5 Noci v Opeře 5:44
6 Saša and the Tale of the Freezy Queen 5:51
7 Vzhůru dolů 5:15
8 Uvidíme 6:23
9 Proč ne? (Píseň pro Dášu) 4:35
10 Didn‘t Say 1:30
11 Czech Dreams 6:35
￼Skip Wilkins – piano Libor Šmoldas – guitar Tomáš „Kaštan“ Baroš – acoustic bass Tomáš
Hobzek – drums
Guests: Rostislav Fraš – tenor sax (track 1 & 6), soprano sax (track 5) Marie Puttnerová – vocals (track 4 & 8)
All compositions by Skip Wilkins
￼Produced by Skip Wilkins and Petr Marek Photos © Alžběta Jungrová Cover design © Lucie Komárková (Studio
Lucy&Lucy), 2013 © & AGUILAR (NEW PORT LINE), 2013 Recorded March 12 and 13, 2012 by Lukáš Martínek at
Studio Svárov Mixed November 2012 by John Vanore, Acoustical Concepts, Springfield, Pennsylvania, USA Mastered
December 2012 by John Vanore, Acoustical Concepts, Springfield, Pennsylvania, USA Made in the E.U.
www.skipwilkinsjazz.com www.newportline.cz www.newportline.eu