Take Five With Petr Zelenka

AAJ Staff By

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Petr ZelenkaMeet Petr Zelenka: He has lived in Prague from 1998 and plays with artists including Najponk, Yvonne Sanchez, Miriam Bayle, Petr Dvorsky, David Dorzka, Vojtich Prochazka, Ondrej Otverarek. He performs at jazz festivals in the Czech Republic and abroad (Novosibirsk, Wroclaw), and has accompanied foreign artists including James Zollar, Piotr Baron, Milosz Rutkowski and Macziej Sikala.

In 1999 he receives the First Prize for the best group on the contest Jazz Junior in Usti nad Labem. In 2000 he released Mafiosi (Cube-Metier). In 2003 he moved to Paris where he accompanies artists including Xavier Richardeau and Fabien Mary, playss in the Coda tentet. He played with his trio at the international festival in Trouville-sur-Mer and on tour in the Czech Republic in spring, 2005.

Since 2008 he is back Prague, playing with his Czech quartet, and occasionally with the French one, with which a CD has been released Memory Flash (Animal Music, 2008).


Teachers and/or influences?
My great teachers were people I listened to when I started playing music: Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker; and then people I played with: Nelson Veras, David Doruzka, Joel Frahm and others.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I started listening to Jimi Hendrix

Your sound and approach to music:
I want to create something beautiful when composing or improvising. I search for a natural sound, I would prefer that my music resembles rural life rather than life in a city. But as I have always lived in big cities, my music seems to be rather like yearning for this rural, simple life. A kind of life where music is needed like bread. Folk music. But still it is modern jazz somehow.

Your teaching approach:
Teaching by example. I think something too systematic doesn't work. Students always see just parts, and they create their own system in the meantime. Based on other things than on the rules you explain. They read between the lines all the time. For me, it is important to reveal to them their own personal approach

Your dream band:
A lot of them. I would like to make a lot of project with different artist: tabla players, violoncellists, clarinet players...
My dream is to travel and meet a lot of musicians from different countries and cultures with completely different approaches and put them together.

Favorite venue:
Kladenske divadelko (Kladno, CZ) Schlott (Berlin)

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
Memory Flash (it is the last one and the sidemen are playing great).

How do you use the internet to help your career?
I cannot imagine my musical career without internet. It makes everything much easier and much faster. Everything got simpler when I had my official website where people can download everything they need.

CDs you are listening to now:
Tatiana Nikolayevna, Schostakovich (Preludes and Fugues);
Bobo Stenson, Cantando
Aaron Parks, Invisible Cinema
McCoy Tyner, The Real McCoy

Paul Motian, On Broadway Vol. 3

Desert Island picks:
Miles Davis, Kind Of Blue
Gustav Mahler, 9th Symphony (Pierre Boulez, Chicago S.O.)
Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, Melody Mountain

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
Much more freedom in the fusion and overlapping of genres. Contrary to the fusions of the '70s, which seems to be kind of stiff to me (but still revolutionary of course)

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Dynamic jazz scene (able to cooperate with musician from abroad) Places where to play (jazz clubs or festivals) Good financial conditions.

What is in the near future?
I am composing for a new project.

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