Karel Velebný Summer Jazz Workshop

About Us

The annual Karel Velebný Summer Jazz Workshop will take place in Frýdlant from August 13th to 20th, 2022 for the thirty-ninth time. In 1983, the committee of the Czech Jazz Society decided to organize summer performing courses; Aleš Benda and Karel Velebný were the ones in charge of the project they conceived, brought to life and baptized as the Summer Jazz Workshop. The seminar threw anchor and made itself at home in Frýdlant thanks to Radek Jech, the local flute player and vocalist.

Vibraphonist, saxophonist, pianist, singer, actor, writer, pedagogue, sportsman body and soul (from time to time…), discoverer, and erudite popularizer of works of Jára da Cimrman, Dr. Evžen Hedvábný aka Karel Velebný was at the origins not only of the basic method but before all of the spirit of the one-week performing seminar. The tutors and participants of the Summer Jazz Workshop have always gladly and without objections succumbed to its magic.

At the very beginning, Karel Velebný was assigned as the director of the workshop. The tutors came mostly from the SHQ group – guitarist Tony Viktora, drummer Milan Vitoch, bassist František Uhlíř, and pianist Emil Viklický. This basic setup was complemented by the guitarist Rudolf Dašek, multiinstrumentalist Jiří Stivín, three Brno natives from the Gustav Brom big band Josef Audes, Mojmír Bártek, and Jaromír Hnilička, the federal character of the event being emphasized by the Bratislava drummer Dodo Šošoka.

During the years, the jazz atmosphere in Frýdlant attracted more and more tutors, e.g. Luboš Andršt, Rosťa Fraš, Jaromír Honzák, Günter Kočí, František Kop, Míla Petr, Milan Svoboda, Jaroslav Šindler, Jiří Urbánek, Petr Volný, Cyril Zeleňák etc. Along with our leading performers, their colleagues from abroad made their appearance; the Norwegian saxophonist Harald Gundhus, Danish saxophonist and leader Jens Klüver, Americans Richard Oehrli (vocals), John Serry (piano), Mark Vinci and Scott Robinson (saxes). Thanks to the British Council, a number of British tutors also taught in Frýdlant – Angela Elliot, Dylan Fowler, Lee Goodall, Richard Morgan, Richard Michael, Gina Rae, Julian Nicholas, Martin Speake, Dave Wickens, Tom Bancroft, Phil Bancroft, Sophie Bancroft, Fionna Duncan, Eddie Severn, Trudy Kerr, Karen Lane, Martin Hathaway, Milo Fell etc.

After five successful years of heading the workshop, Karel Velebný left us for an eternal jam session. Emil Viklický took over the “headmaster’s office”, followed by Karel Růžička who went to the “heavens band” in September 2016. The saxophonist Rosťa Fraš sadly left us and the tutors’ team on November 13th, 2019 after a long battle with cancer.

In 2020 COVID-19 prevented the American tutors from coming to Frýdlant. The British saxophonists Andy Schofield and Suzanne Higgins, and the singer Veronika Vítová were very kind to replace them.

The tutors setup for this year’s edition will most likely be the following: Josef Fečo (bass) Zdeněk Fišer (guitar), Miroslav Hloucal (trumpet), Štěpán Janoušek (trombone), Petr Kalfus (saxes) František Krtička (keyboards), Pavel Razím (drums), Jiří Stivín (flutes), Milo Suchomel (saxes), Jaroslav Šindler (guitar), Lubomír Šrámek (keyboards), Zdeněk "Wimpy" Tichota (bassguitar), Adam Tvrdý (guitar), Boris Urbánek (keyboards), Marek Urbánek (drums), Veronika Vítová (vocal) and Martin Zbrožek (violin). Of the American tutors, Lee Andrew Davison (vocal) will surely be a part of the setup and in case the pandemic situation improves, Neil Wetzel (saxes and big band) and Skip Wilkins (vocal) will attend. If the travel between the US and Europe is still difficult or impossible, Andy Schofield is again ready to join the tutor’s team.

On Wednesday, August 17th, 2020 the Tutors’ concert will take place at the Frydlant Castle courtyard that will feature the creme de la creme of Czech and international jazz. The students will get their chance to perform on Thursday and Friday at the Beseda restaurant. The closing of both concerts will be taken care of by two big bands led by Neil Wetzel or Andy Schofield. Other concerts and exhibitions are currently being organized.

The thirty-ninth year of the Summer Jazz Workshop, now bearing the name of its founder Karel Velebný is again organized by Aleš Benda abstudio [at] seznam.cz, partnered by the Municipality of Frýdlant, Music School Frýdlant (director Vladimír Hrdina, phone +420 482 312 312). The 39th Karel Velebný Summer Jazz Workshop organizers wish to acknowledge financial support of the Municipality of Frýdlant.