Jazz pianist Tomáš Sýkora releases a recording of symphonic homage to Karel Růžička
Songs for Orchestra is a new album and the most extensive music project to date by jazz pianist and composer Tomáš Sýkora. It features a live recording of a concert performance in honour of the memory of Karel Růžička who was Sýkora’s teacher and close friend. Sýkora assembled the programme as a curator of the New Horizons concert series by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra which merges jazz and classical music in unique concert projects.
On the present album, which is an example of such an original fusion, Sýkora is joined by three other jazz soloists – saxophonist David Fárek, double bassist Tomáš Liška and drummer Roman Vícha. Together, they are joined by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra which performs under the baton of Štěpánka Balcarová, who is best-known as the artistic director of the Concept Art Orchestra big band. The album comprises Růžička’s famous piece Lovebird for a chamber ensemble and jazz quartet, arranged by Sýkora for a larger line-up. This is followed by Sýkora’s own suite, Hidden Songs, whose individual movements evoke various song forms.
The album also comprises a selection of compositions from the latest album Grace and Gratitude by Růžička’s son, composer and saxophonist Karel Růžička Jr., released by Animal Music in 2018. The compositions from the album, dedicated to the memory of Růžička’s loved ones, have been arranged and assembled by Sýkora into an eponymous large suite. The composition is concluded by the powerful theme of On Earth As It Is In Heaven, a song which pays tribute to Karel Růžička as an outstanding man, loving father, an excellent musician and a close friend.
The digital version of the album contains an additional track, Celebration Blues, from Růžička’s famous composition Celebration Jazz Mass. The compositional invention of both Karel Růžičkas and Tomáš Sýkora is supported in this album by Sýkora’s sensitive and effective orchestrations in which the varied colours of the orchestra intermingle with the energy of the jazz performers who have been given a generous space for improvisation as well.
TOMÁŠ SÝKORA (*1979)
An established composer, pianist, teacher, producer and arranger, and an author of several internationally acclaimed projects. As composer, he has been focussing on contemporary classical music and jazz and has collaborated with foremost Czech ensembles and orchestras, including the Moravian Philharmonics Olomouc, the Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra, Prague Wind Quintet and Pavel Bořkovec Quartet. Tomáš is an active member of the Prague Six, a group of composers formed around the Concept Art Orchestra big band, led by composer and trumpetist Štěpánka Balcarová. Tomáš Sýkora was Růžička’s pupil of many years, but also a close friend and an arranger of his compositions.
The recording of the concert, which took place at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague on 18 September 2020, has been made and overseen by Roman Kolliner (Czech Radio), Adam Karlík and Pavel Karlík (Sono Records). The mix was done at Sono Records by Milan Cimfe, the album’s producer Petr Ostrouchov, Tomáš Sýkora and Adam Karlík.
DOX+, 18 September 2020 at 7:30 p.m.