- Luboš Soukup
- clarinet, tenor sax
- David Dorůžka
- Vít Křišťan
- piano, keyboards
- Martin Novák
- Jaromír Honzák
- acoustic and electric bass
The Jaromír Honzák Quintet performs mostly original compositions by the leader. Grounded in contemporary jazz, but open to the many influences beyond, the band performs music both fragile and charged with energy.
The current line-up of my quintet is my dream band. They are tremendous musicians who can interpret my musical vision better than I could ever imagine in individual tracks.
The story of my band
When Kuba Stankiewicz, a great pianist and composer and my classmate from Berklee, invited me to take part in various projects in his native Poland, he introduced me to practically the entire Polish jazz scene during the 1990s. Longing to start my own band where I could play my own music around that time, the choice of bandmates was clear: I approached my favorite Polish musicians: Kuba Stankiewicz and his close working partner, the saxophonist Piotr Baron. This dynamic duo were added to the core of my Prague players (Pavel Bady Zboril, Peter Binder, David Dorůžka and others) and, gradually, I invited other Berklee classmates to cut some albums, including the drummer Jorge Rossy (Earth Life album), the guitarist Christian Rover (Present Past) or the saxophonist Chris Cheek (Little Things).
Other Polish players were invited to record with the band as well on later projects, such as the pianist Michal Tokaj and the drummer Lukasz Zyta.
Meanwhile, a new generation of emerging musicians had come on the scene in the Czech Republic and it was inevitable to approach some of them. The current line-up of my quintet is my dream band. They are tremendous musicians who can interpret my musical vision better than I could ever imagine in individual tracks.
On my latest albums, other foreign guests have appeared alongside Czech musicians, such as the Norwegian singer (and saxophonist) Sissel Vera Pettersen (Blood Sings), the Swedish drummer Jon Falt and the French clarinetist and saxophonist Antonin-Tri Hoang (Uncertainty).
The last two albums, Early Music and Hard To Understand, were cut using my 100% homegrown dream lineup.
It may surprise you, based on the number of concerts of my band, but I cannot complain about the hard-to-reach audience and the professional community. My albums Early Music, Uncertainty, Little Things, A Question To All Your Answers and Present Past were awarded the Angel Award as the best Czech jazz albums of the year.
In addition, the album A Question To All Your Answers ranked #3 in 2009 in the instrumental jazz category of the Just Plain Folks international awards competition.
American publisher Chuck Sher liked “Constant Struggle” (a song from the Present Past album) so much he included it in his “European Real Book”, and “Forward from Uncertainty” was dissected nicely as an example of how to use “cross-rhythm” in Rory Stuart’s The Rhythm Book.
Of my current musical lineup, I have been working the longest with David Dorůžka who played on my second album (Earth Life) at the age of 18. During this recording, David met the Spanish drummer Jorge Rossy, who subsequently recorded David’s album Wandering Song many years later. David’s solo debut, Hidden Paths, was recorded in New York City where he lived in 2002-3. Prior to that, David studied composition and improvisation at Berklee where he received a full scholarship and received several awards, such as the Wayne Shorter Award and the Jimi Hendrix Award. In the summer of 2000, David attended a master class for young musicians in Aspen, Colorado where he was selected as the only guitarist based on the recommendation of Pat Metheny.
Prior to that, David studied composition and improvisation at Berklee where he received a full scholarship and received several awards, such as the Wayne Shorter Award and the Jimi Hendrix Award. In the summer of 2000, David attended a master class for young musicians in Aspen, Colorado where he was selected as the only guitarist based on the recommendation of Pat Metheny.
David is, with no exaggeration, a world-class talent. I have witnessed his musical maturation since I met him when he was 14 years old and I remember that it took David a long time to realize that other musicians made mistakes when playing! He didn’t. It was a unique experience for me to meet David then as I saw the birth of a great musician. David is known world-wide as he regularly collaborates with foreign musicians on their own projects.
I heard Vít Křišťan for the first time at the entrance exams of the J. Ježek Conservatory. He played beautifully, but he opted to join the famous jazz department in Katowice. From there he later moved to Odense, Denmark, so it was several years until I heard him again. Upon his return we started to meet more and more often and it resulted in my playing in the Vít Křišťan Trio along with drummer Roman Vícha. The trio became the basis of Vít’s later project Imprints where he proved to be a great composer capable of transporting listeners to many different worlds.
Vít is a pianist perfectly suited to my imagination – modern, open to all styles and extremely creative. We are both attracted to and have a positive relationship with intelligent pop music and shapes our continuing respect for music where the power of a musical statement does not depend on the number of notes played.
The first album I invited Vít to play on was Blood Sings, a cover of Suzanne Vega songs. Vít worked perfectly here and his concept of how to play and what sounds to make took the band to a new level. Vít continues to benefit from his Polish and Danish contacts and he works throughout Europe on a regular basis.
I first played with Martin Novák in the Najponk Trio. At that time this young drummer swung from the heart and it was obvious that he had great respect for Najponk. A few years later, I met Martin at a festival concert with the David Dorůžka Trio and my jaw dropped – the young drummer had matured unbelievably and his play flourished with creativity.
Martin soon became the most versatile and sought-after drummer in the entire music scene, so I am extremely lucky that he can find the time in his diary to play with my band. Somehow, he also managed to study at the Jazz Institute in Berlin which allowed him to spread his wings further. Playing with him is a great pleasure.
Luboš Soukup was a student of mine at the J. Ježek Conservatory College and is one of those rare people that you meet when you know from the start that they are determined and will never compromise themselves. You just knew that he was going to start a fire somewhere down the road. I have never seen a better graduation concert performance and Luboš’s subsequent forays to Katowice and Copenhagen, where he settled after his studies, is a journey filled with many creative experiments and ongoing intensive work with many projects in Copenhagen and Prague.
In 2017, Luboš received the prestigious Discovery of the Year award in Denmark from Miles Davis’s bandmate Marilyn Mazur.
One of Luboš’s current projects is with Lionel Loueke. Their joint album Earth sounds as if the two of them had grown up together in the African quarter of Copenhagen. Luboš first worked with me on the album Early Music. His tenor saxophone and clarinet playing goes beyond my imagination.