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Take Five With Jerry Senfluk

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Jerry Senfluk:

Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia (NOT the Czech Republic), on St. Patrick's Day, 1946. As the younger son of a pianist mother and a cellist father. he enjoyed thorough musical education from his distinguished parents in playing the piano, intonation and musical theory. He received private tuition from the Principal Clarinetist of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and, in 1967, graduated from the Conservatoire of Prague. With a father who frequently toured the world and brought home many a record, he was influenced by Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Sidney Bechet, Omer Simeon, Duke Ellington, Jack Teagarden, Coleman Hawkins, and many others.

An initial live jazz influence was clarinetist Edmond Hall who toured Czechoslovakia in 1958.

Professional Experience 1962: First public appearance on clarinet at a jam session during the International Jazz Festival in Prague, playing alongside Acker Bilk and his Paramount Jazz Band.

1963-1968: Performed with the Cats Jazz Band and with the Jazz Fiddlers. After graduation from the Conservatoire, worked for the Czechoslovakian Radio on a series of jazz programs and became Assistant Editor of Melodie, Prague's jazz and popular music monthly magazine.

1969: Joined the orchestra of the State Theatre in Aussig (Northern Bohemia) in March and appeared at the International Jazz Festival in San Sebastian in July. Moved to (then) West Berlin and toured Germany with a band supporting Albert Nicholas.

1970-1973: Continued to work in Germany until late 1971 and, due to a complicated ankle fracture, rested during much of 1972. Became clarinet teacher in November 1972 at the Steglitz School of Music in Berlin. Married Georgina, a ballet dancer and pedagogue, in June 1973.

1974: Tour of West Germany and Switzerland with a Zurich-based Dixieland band. Guesting with many traditionalists in London, notably with Fred Hunt of the Alex Welsh Band and with Ron Wheatherburn of Kenny Ball fame. Established the Coppelia Ballet School in Berlin, running the business side whilst Georgina provided the tuition.

1975-1977: Frequent bookings in West Germany. Worked with a band accompanying Freddie Kohlman, and with the Savoy Gang, a swing quartet.

1978: In demand on the London Jazz scene, playing with many U.K. names and resident at Soho's Zanzibar Club with Satn Greig and Johnny Parker. Later worked with the Haens'che Weiss Quintet, a Berlin-based manouche formation mixing Django Reinhardt's tradition with influences from eastern European Gypsy folklore and Brazilian music.

1979-1984: Founded the Hallmark Swingtet in Berlin. Promotional and corporate performances for a wide range of companies, institutes and municipal bodies. Work in radio and television. Played with the Berlin All Stars.

1985-1990: Back in London, playing West End and South Bank venues and composing. Residencies at the Misty Club, Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria, at Le Dinghy Club, Saint Barthelemy, French West Indies, and at the Casa Bar, Zurich, Switzerland. Wrote the musical arrangements for Eggy Ley's "Prohibition and All That Jazz" show. Worked with ex-Fats Waller guitarist Al Casey. Jazz Festival appearances in Cork, Edinburgh and The Hague. Toured Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom with Max Collie Rhythm Aces. With pianist Mick Pyne, guitarist Nils Solberg, double-bassist John Rees-Jones and drummer Rex Bennett, formed his Capital Swing and introduced regular live jazz into Chelsea Harbour. Played last stints with Bob Wallis at the Casa Bar in Zurich.

1992-1998: With Yves "Little Fats" Guyot and Eric Luter, residencies at the Hotel Ermitage Golf near Gstaad, Switzerland. With his Capital Swing, appearances, recordings and tours in the United Kingdom, Spain, Switzerland, France and Germany. Appearances with Adelaide Hall, Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball and Larry Adler. Tours and festival appearances in Bohemia, Sweden and Slovakia with the Prague Jazzphonics. Recordings with formations of Allan Bradley and of George Polydor.

1999-2002: Relocation back to Berlin and semi-retirement from music.

2003-2008: After yet another relocation, this time to the picturesque rural settings of Upper Franconia (northern Bavaria), touring Austria, Bohemia, Denmark, France, Germany, Mauretania, Senegal, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom with various ensembles of Alexander Katz, Andy Lawrence, George Pokydor, Herbert Christ, Keith Smith, Max Collie and—above all—Vano Bamberger. Also branching out to classical music and into Russian salon music of the 19th century with pianist Alla Schatz and baritone vocalist Oleg Dynov.

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