Emil Viklicky: Patriarch of Czech Jazz Piano

Victor Verney By

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AAJ: Your most recent thing is The Mystery of Man, in New York as part of Wynton Marsalis' Broadway production Let Freedom Swing. You used the prison writings of Vaclav Havel for that. So did Marsalis just look you up?

EV: Actually, it stemmed from a recording I played on by George Mraz, Morava (Fantasy/Milestone, 2001), so far the only recording I've been on produced in America. The producer was Todd Barkan. He was working at the Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis—whom I had met when he was in Prague working on a project called Blood on the Field (Columbia, 1995). We talked about my opera work then. So, when Wynton started putting that project together for the Lincoln Center, he mentioned my name to Todd and had him call me.

AAJ: I understand you had a chance to play with another famous American musician in Prague, but it didn't quite work out. I'm referring to former President Bill Clinton, and I'm using the term "musician" rather loosely here, of course.

EV: Yes, Clinton visited Prague in January of 1994, and among the ceremonies held for him was one where he was presented with a Czech-made saxophone. Some government officials came up with the idea of having him play it with a local band, and they asked me to back him up with my band. Unfortunately, I was scheduled to go visit my son and grandchildren, who were living in Hawaii at the time. I'd had to purchase my ticket far in advance, and if I'd cancelled and bought a new ticket, it would have been very expensive! So I told them, "I'm sorry, but I already have travel plans which can't be changed."

AAJ: Did Bubba still play with the rest of the band?

EV: Yes, they had another pianist cover for me, and Clinton played with them at the Reduta, one of Pragues's most renowned jazz clubs. So, I guess I missed my chance to be really famous. [laughing].

Selected Discography

Emil Vicklický Trio, Cookin' In Bonn (Dekkor, 2006)
Emil Vicklický Trio & Scott Robinson, Summertime (Cube-Métier, 2004)
Emil Vicklický Trio and Steve Houben, What's New (Cube-Métier, 2003)
Emil Vicklický, Laco Tropp, Frantisek Uhlir, Trio '01 (Arta, 2002)
Zuzana Lapcikova, Emil Vicklický, Petr Ruzicka, Lullabies (Multisonic, 2001)
George Mraz, Billy Hart, Zuzana Lapcikova, Emil Vicklický, Morava (Fantasy/Milestone, 2001)
Emil Vicklický, Live in Rudolfinum (PJ Music, 2001)
Benny Golbin with Emil Vicklický, An American in Prague (ClearWater, 2000)
Zuzana Lapcikova with Emil Vicklický, Moravian Love Songs (Lotos, 1999)
Emil Vicklický Quartet, Food of Love ( Lotos, 1998)
Emil Vicklický with Jarmo Sermila, Alex Svamberk and Miroslav Posejpal, Neuro (Gallup Music, 1998)
Emil Vicklický with Anita Wardell, Greg Hopkins, Gergely Ittzes, Eric Marienthal and Julian Nicholas, Duets (Lotos, 1998)
Emil Vicklický Quartet with Bill Frisell, The Window and The Door (Bonton, 1997)
Emil Vicklický with Boris Urbanek, UV Drive (Arta, 1997)
Emil Vicklický with Steve Houben, Petr Dvorsky and Laco Tropp, Bohemia After Dark (PJ Music, 1997)
Emil Vicklický and James Williams, Together (Supraphon, 1996)
Jarmo Sermila and Emil Vicklický, Confluence (Jasemusiikki Finland, 1995)
Emil Vicklický and Alex Svamberk with Lucie Bila, Last Connection from Niirasaki (Monitor/EMI Records, 1995)
Ad lib Moravia, Fast Falls the Rain (Lotos, 1994)
Emil Vicklický Quartet, 'Round Midnight (Arta, 1991)
Benny Bailey Quintet, While My Lady Sleeps... (Gemini Records, 1990)
Emil Vicklický Trio, Beyond the Mountains (Supraphon, 1990)
Emil Vicklický Quartet and the Talich Quartet, Homage to Joan Miro (Supraphon, 1988)

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Victor Verney
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