Jazz Q
Martin Kratochvíl & Jazz Q

  • Format: CD
  • Band: Jazz Q
  • Title: Martin Kratochvíl & Jazz Q
  • Band's Origin: CS
  • Style: progressive Rock - Jazzrock, mostly instrumental, partly female vocals
  • Rating: 5/5/4/4/4/
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Recording Year: 1973-1991
  • Production Year: 1973-2007/2007
  • Record Company: Supraphon
  • Item's Number: SU 5872-2
  • Color of the Label:
  • Edition:
  • Extras: cardboard box, neutral white sleeves
  • EAN: 099925587222
  • Weight: 234 g
  • Visual: new
  • Acoustic:
  • Cover: new
Box containing the albums Pozorovatelna / The Watch-Tower; Symbiosis; 1974-75 Live; Elegie; Zvěsti; Hodokvas; Hvězdoň / Asteroid; Bonusy

Supraphon Release Information

An exclusive 8 CD box set containing albums and rare recordings made by the Czech jazzrock legend Martin Kratochvíl!

The box set includes albums not previously released on CD or unavailable for many years, as well as studio recordings with a hallmark of surprise from the repertoire of Martin Kratochvíl’s Jazz Q. The compilation has been put together by the band’s front man and supplemented by an interesting memoir of his colleague Tony Ackermann.

From the introductory “Pozorovatelna” (Observatory) to the concluding bonus “Co se na desky nevešlo” (Outtakes), the listener is presented with first-class pieces performed by superlative instrumentalists and vocalists. Besides the keyboard wizard Kratochvíl, you will hear Francl, Padrůněk, Vrbovec and Dugganová, and, as time went by, other of his permanent or occasional musical partners. Accordingly, the CDs feature Andršt, Faukner, Laun, Martinec, Tomek, Helešic, Trnavský, Petr and Kozma, as well as dozens of guests, including Koubková, Kalandra, Kulhánek, J. Veselý, Griglák and C & K Vocal.

A veritable feast for all those who were around at the time and a great adventure for younger music fans keen on discovering music straddling the borders between rock and jazz, or jazz and rock, call it what you will.

Jazz Q: The history of Czech fusion from 1973 to 1991 spread over eight CDs!

Kalemegdan Disk Additions

The first part of the set contains the recordings from 1973. The instrumental Pozovatelna which sounds much better than the original LP due to the excellent remastering and it is extended with suiting additional songs to 65 minutes. The second one, Symbiosis, was recorded together with the British female singer Joan Duggan and comes with one suiting 10 minutes bonus track. Both offer a great mixture of prog rock and jazzrock elements.

The third CD, Jazz Q 1974-75 live – a concert from 1975 in medium recording quality again with Joan Duggan – was not released on LP at all, but on CD in 1991. It has a strong bluesrock influence.

The following four albums Elegie, Zvěsti, Hodokvas and Hvězdoň were recorded between 1976 and 1981. All of them contain an instrumental mixture of prog rock and jazzrock elements again and they keep the constantly high level from the band’s first recordings.

The final CD Bonusy is a real treasury for those interested in the late works of the band: Besides two unreleased tracks from the Mid-Seventies and the single from 1979 it contains exclusively recordings from the Eighties, all in studio quality.

The box is beautiful designed and includes a rich booklet showing all the cover front pages and a lot more. The CDs themselves are packed in neutral white paper sleeves.

Coniunctio, the very first album of Jazz Q recorded in 1970 together with Blue Effect is not part of this box set. It was reissued on CD within the Blue Effect 1969-1989 box set.

Band Information

In the first few months of 1969, I was lucky enough to see Miles Davis play several times at the Boston’s Jazz Workshop, surrounded with some awesome young players: Dave Holland, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett (both at once!), John McLaughlin and Jack DeJohnette. If you know your jazz history, you will recognize the beginning, the “big bang”, of jazzrock all in this one group: Wayne Shorter soon joined with Joe Zawinul to form Weather Report, Chick Corea teamed up with some great Brazilians in Return to Forever, and John McLaughlin brought in Indian elements to this new style with his Mahavishnu Orchestra. Miles’ prototype group had returned to the simplest harmony (sometimes one pedal drone for an entire album side!), a mesmerizing rhythm, and quirky, filigreed decorations by virtuoso soloists, holding their coloratura barrages back just enough – you knew they were coming – to increase your excitement and anticipation. Later this fresh new music would come to be called “fusion” – a strong, nuclear word; it combined the refinement and virtuosity of jazz, the funkiness of the blues, the direct simplicity of rock, the polyphony of Bach, and the gentle rhythmic push of Brazilian samba, while leaving out all the extra notes – and blended the essence together in a cool, rich, endlessly shifting pool of sound.

Less than two years later – April 1971– I found myself in Prague, taken by my Czech girlfriend/future wife to the Reduta Jazz Club to hear a group led by her classmate’s brother, with the weird name of Jazz Q. (Why “Q”? How do you pronounce “Q” in Czech?) I certainly did not expect to find an exciting jazzrock group in the dim cellars of normalized Prague -- what a pleasant surprise! Though this was 36 years ago, I still can see the charismatic Martin Kratochvíl wailing away on his Hohner electric piano, the ever-serious Luboš Andršt curled around his Framus guitar eking out perfect, economical solos, and the grinning Láďa Padrůněk, looking about fourteen, having just too much fun popping out funky notes on his electric bass. They played John McLaughlin’s Binky’s Beam, with its soaring melody and quirky 19/8 time signature, Mike Nock’s Cantelope Island with its economy of line, funky syncopations, and perfect chord substitutions, and many Kratochvíl originals that you will hear on these CDs.

The jazzrock (r)evolution had found the most fertile soil in Martin Kratochvíl. Though he spoke English with an almost-perfect British accent, he loved all things American. He had drunk of the Dionysian pleasures of 60s rock at the Isle of Wight festival in 1969. He found in the music of Miles, Weather Report and early McLaughlin a freshness, a simplicity that would resonate incredibly with the needs of Czechoslovaks of his generation, men and women in their teens and early twenties who were being so hard hit by “normalization”, who were just finishing, or more often, being expelled from, universities, having had their youthful hopes and plans dashed by the August tanks of 1968. In the 70s Jazz Q grew into rock-star status in much of Eastern Europe, not only because of Joan Duggan and the many male singers who cycled through the group – there was simply something essential, something desperately needed here, in this music. It was not depressing or double-edged, like Karel Kryl and the many písničkáři who followed him. Nor was it highly technical and introverted, as jazz often gets as it buries itself deeper in smoky clubs. And unlike the underground, dissident rock, the music, like Martin himself, refused to be defined, or bound, by the devastating realities of normalization. When we spoke on that first evening at Reduta, Martin explained to me why he loved this new music: its simple pentatonic and bluesy roots reconnected us to the basic lifeblood of all music.

The double word “jazzrock” is a perfect description of Jazz Q, because throughout the 70s and early 80s the group progressed on two parallel tracks. The “jazz” track was Martin’s original music, highly influenced by the great young players he worked with: Luboš Andršt and František Francl on guitar, Láďa Padrůněk, Přemysl Faukner, Vita Musil and Juraj Griglák on bass, Pavel Trnavský, Jaromír Helešic and Pavol Kozma on drums and many others. In these discs you will find much more than just an imitation of the jazz giants. It has often been said of his studio recordings that each album takes off exactly from the point where the previous one ends. My favorite of these pieces is Martin’s Madona. The “A” theme rises up out of a cool and shady introduction to an introverted melody, gradually building up from minor sixths and diminished fifths to an open consonant chord, then explodes – quietly – into a rocking bridge – all with perfectly shaded harmonies, irregular rhythms, and constantly changing coloration. Like all good Czech art, these compositions are marked by meticulous craftsmanship and a kind of humble introversion; there is more similarity here to Sudek’s subtle, understated still-lifes than to, say, Andy Warhol’s screaming manifestos.

The “rock” part is a whole other world. These were years when hardrock groups were under close Party scrutiny and not allowed to play for large audiences. Jazz Q, because its name (jazz, with its connection to the downtrodden and exploited African-Americans, was tolerated by the authorities), was able to do its “rock” part more “under the radar” than most groups. The live cuts on this collection (check out Stevie Wonder’s Living in the City) show a raw energy that soon made it into the “jazz” studio recordings.

Thus, “fusion” takes on a new meaning here as well, Martin and his gifted colleagues brought in a music based totally on Western roots, and yet made out of it something very Czech, fusing private and public worlds, East and West. The development of Martin’s music did not stop with the waning of Jazz Q’s popularity in the mid- 1980s. Here I came into the picture, with my acoustic guitar; I coaxed Martin back to the wooden, grand piano, and we have continued, in “chamber” form, to make fusion music for over twenty years with the Irani/Iraqui-born percussionist Imram Musa Zangi, making “folk music for the new millennium”. But that’s another chapter, and until we also issue a retrospective set, please enjoy the great music of Jazz Q.

Tony Ackerman


CD 1 Jazz Q Praha: Pozorovatelna / The Watch-tower – ℗ 1973

1. Pori 72 13:06
2. Pozorovatelna 6:48
3. Trifid 9:27
4. Klobásové hody 5:48
5. Kartágo 4:35
6. Walter L. 5:43
7. Pozorovatelna II 5:26
8. Kartágo II 5:23
9. Percenta pro Hnízdovku 9:19

CD 2 Jazz Q: Symbiosis – ℗ 1974

1. From Dark to Light / Ze tmy do světla 6:02
2. Lost Soul / Ztracená láska 6:06
3. Starbird / Hvězdný pták 7:23
4. The Wizard / Čaroděj 16:26
5. Epilog 3:28
6. Presage / Předzvěst 9:40

CD 3 Jazz Q: Jazz Q live 1974-75 – Recorded 1975, ℗ 1991

1. Watch out 4:55
2. My Mother mě porodila v strouze 8:13
3. We all Had a Real Good Time 3:12
4. Sanctuary 6:23
5. Giving up 4:41
6. Freedom Jazz Dance 8:41
7. Lonesome 7:50
8. Living for the City 6:21
9. Co dům dal 5:26

CD 4 Jazz Q Martina Kratochvíla: Elegie – ℗ 1977

1. Slunovrat 5:23
2. Naděje 7:13
3. Citadela 3:08
4. Tanec 3:51
5. Létavice 5:18
6. Toledo 7:34
7. Žravá dáma 5:20
8. Věštba 1:54

CD 5 Martin Kratochvíl & Jazz Q: Zvěsti – ℗ 1979

1. Klekánice 6:19
2. Vzkříšení 4:57
3. Šlépěj 6:06
4. Jinotaj 4:37
5. Tříšť 4:29
6. Korouhvička 4:30
7. Krůpěj 5:06
8. Větroplach 7:13

CD 6 Martin Kratochvíl & Jazz Q: Hodokvas – ℗ 1980

1. Poprask 7:11
2. Vřesoviště 5:46
3. Madona 8:04
4. Pralesní píseň 9:10
5. Dejvické blues 5:29
6. Šerosvit 8:02

CD 7 Martin Kratochvíl & Jazz Q: Hvězdoň/Asteroid – ℗ 1984

1. Trhanec 4:37
2. Rozepře 6:22
3. Procitání 4:46
4. Silvestr na Baštírně 5:55
5. Peruť 7:22
6. Pivo v prášku 5:05
7. Hvězdoň 2:13
8. Boží člověk 5:13

CD 8 Jazz Q: Bonusy – Recorded 1975-1991, ℗ 2007

1. Blues starý ženský 4:48
2. Zlý sen 5:56
3. Jsem svá 3:31
4. Ovčí vlna 4:58
5. Blues holky na vdávání 5:02
6. Velký bohém 4:19
7. Pražské boogie 3:30
8. Zatmění měsíce 4:32
9. Blues podzimního odpoledne 4:16
10. Obchodník s deštěm 3:45
11. What a Way to Start 2:18
12. Why Do I Have to Move 2:55
13. Konstelace 6:32
14. Svědek světa / Witness to the World 6:30
15. Good Bye! 9:04