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Martin Kratochvil & Jazz Q — Live Plzeň 1980
(GAD Records GAD CD 362, 1980/2023, CD / LP)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2024-02-17

Live Plzeň 1980 Cover art

In the early 70s Czech keyboardist Kratochvíl led his band Jazz Q Praha through some interesting musical terrain with an expanded lineup of six to seven members, releasing albums like Pozorovatelna (The Watch-Tower) and Symbiosis (1973 and '74 respectively), representing a period that is well documented in the live album Živí Se Diví: Live in Bratislava 1975 (released in 2013), after which Kratochvíl chose to break the band up and study composition at Berklee in the United States. Returning to Czechoslovakia after a couple years, he assembled a new version of Jazz Q, ushering in their most productive era with the four studio albums Elegie (1977), Zvĕsti (1979), Hodokvas (Feasting) (1980), and Hvězdoň / Asteroid (1984). This period is characterized by a more electric fusion sound borne of a leaner four or five piece lineup, often with plenty of guest players on hand, reflecting a more American influence, not unlike Herbie Hancock or Weather Report of the same period. The live set at hand represents their live work from that period well, a mere five instrumental tracks across 35 minutes, sans guest players, the quartet cruises through two cuts from Hodokvas (“Pralesní Píseň / Song of the Virgin Forest” and “Madona / The Madonna”), one number that would open the Hvězdoň album four years later (“Trhanec / The Muffin”) and a cut from the 1979 single Mini Jazz Klub 25 (“Pečeť”), all featuring that keyboard-driven fusion sound, with support from guitarist František Francl, electric bassist Vladimír Padrůněk, and drummer Pavel Trnavský, the same group that played on the single and Hodokvas. The final track is one written by guitarist Francl. “Až Se Ucho Utrhne,” and one that doesn’t appear on any other Jazz Q recordings from that period, yet it’s a monster that closes this set nicely with more guitar edge than the rest. A great set that provides some insight into  the live workings of one of eastern Europe’s finest bands, still going today.

Filed under: Archives, 2023 releases, 1980 recordings

Related artist(s): Jazz Q

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