Libor Šmoldas Quartet releases a new album recorded in the U.S.A.
Towards the end of last year a sad day dawned not only for the vast majority of Czechs, but for the rest of the world
as well: Václav Havel, a worldwide symbol of freedom and humanism, the first post-revolution president of
Czechoslovakia and later of the Czech Republic, departed this life. Memorial events were held and the media were filled
with retrospective reflections on the life and significance of this extraordinary personality. It was a time to stop and
realize how much has changed in the years since November 17, 1989. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life there are
things that we often fail to notice, things we take for granted. And many things have certainly changed. For example,
before the Velvet Revolution the idea that a Czechoslovak jazz musician could go on tour to the United States of
America, play concerts in the capital city of the jazz world, New York itself, and even top off his American concert
series by recording an album… all of that sounded like fanciful science fiction. Times change, however, and even
science fiction can become reality, although in this case we had to wait here in our Bohemian fields and groves more
than 21 years.
The idea of a US east coast tour came to Libor Šmoldas sometime in 2010 and preparations took approximately one year. The band traveled over 2,000 miles in 18 days and played venues in New York (including the famous jazz club Smalls), New Jersey, Virginia, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania and North Carolina. In addition to performing, the musicians also presented lectures at three American universities. At Western Carolina University, known throughout the eastern US for its outstanding studio engineering program, they also had access to a state-of-the-art recording studio, where this album was recorded on April 8, 2011. The following day the band participated in the WCU jazz festival, where they performed with the festival’s featured star, renowned saxophonist Bobby Watson. The bonus track on this album, recorded live at the festival, is Bobby Timmons’ standard “Moanin’”, which Watson often played during his tenure with Art Blakey’s legendary Jazz Messengers. Although this track was not originally intended to be part of this album, it has been included for the way it captures the atmosphere of the tour. It is noteworthy that the Quartet’s meeting and subsequent performance with Watson led to further collaboration during the European tour of this American jazz star.
The album is extremely diverse — it contains two more standards, Jimmy Van Heusen’s “It Could Happen To You,” (one of Šmoldas’ longtime personal favorites), and John Carisi’s remarkable “Israel”, a piece which first appeared on Miles Davis’ cult album Birth Of the Cool. The album also features “Humblebee,” by drummer Tomáš Hobzek, and “Lenka,” by contrabassist Josef Fečo, who dedicated it to his wife. Three pieces by Šmoldas round out the album: “One For Wes Montgomery,” dedicated to his favorite guitarist, ”Mike’s Bike,” dedicated to his younger son, and “Not a Jazz Tune,” which was partially inspired by the music of James Taylor.
The excellent sound quality of the album, which was produced entirely in the USA, is the work of WCU recording engineer Dan Gonko, who also mixed the album. The album was mastered from tape at SonicADventures by Pavel Włosok, who was also the recording and mixing engineer for the bonus track.
The visual design of the album reflects the traditions of modern jazz as well as the influence of the quartet’s US
tour, although it is conceived in a modern style. The photographs are by the talented Alexander Dobrovodský, who
studied photography at XYZ, and the graphic design is by Lucie Komárková of the innovative graphic studio
A number of Czech musicians have tried and are trying to find success in America, and it would be correct to say that some of them have succeeded. But apparently no Czech jazz band has ever before gone on tour in the USA, thus the whole project has the gleam of something new and pioneering, and not only for the musicians involved. The album was born at the tour’s end, and as has been mentioned, in one day of recording, in an attempt to capture how the band sounded after a number of weeks spent playing concerts in the States, to capture the mood of the whole project on an album. I think they succeeded. You can judge for yourself…
To buy 18 Days. 2000 Miles. please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Libor Šmodlas Quartet
18 Days. 2000 Miles
New Port Line
Libor Šmoldas (g)
Petr Beneš (p)
Josef Fečo (b)
Tomáš Hobzek (dr)
- One for Wes Montgomery (Libor Šmoldas)
- Israel (John Carisi)
- Humblebee dance (Tomáš Hobzek)
- Lenka (Josef Fečo)
- Mike's bike (Libor Šmoldas)
- Not a jazz Tune (Libor Šmoldas)
- It could happen To You (Jimmy Van Heusen)
- Moanin (Bobby Timmons) – bonus track (live) feat. Bobby Watson (as)