The "Bohemia After Dark" Project

Celebrating the Giants of Bop

A Prague, Bohemia-based jazz sextet focusing on authentic performances of both classics and neglected gems from the golden age of bebop in the 1940s through cool jazz to the emergence of hard bop in the mid-1950s, inspired by the career of pioneering drummer Kenny Clarke and his 1955 album "Bohemia After Dark".

 
 

About The Project

"Bop Beyond Bird" (1941-1956)

For the general public or even the gigging jazz musician, the term “bebop” is perhaps most associated with its two towering figures - Dizzy Gillespie and, above all, Charlie "Yardbird" Parker. While their preeminence is beyond doubt, the "Bohemia After Dark" Project takes a different perspective, by exploring the careers and collaborations of bop’s two original, but somewhat overlooked, giants of the rhythm section - the drummer Kenny Clarke and bassist Oscar Pettiford.

The project is named after the Pettiford composition “Bohemia After Dark” (1955), which was first recorded on Clarke's iconic album of the same title, marking a high point in his career (as leader) and the debut for both Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and Donald Byrd, two of the future greats of hard bop. The title referred to the “Café Bohemia”, a recently opened jazz club in New York with a "progressive jazz only" policy, Pettiford as its musical director and Pettiford and Clarke as mainstays of its house band. Ironically, the new music program had been conceived on the basis that Charlie Parker would make a comeback and pay off his bar debts at the existing premises, but he died shortly before it started. Just as one era ended, Cannonball, heir to Bird's mantle, was "discovered" weeks later after a chance sit-in at the club.

 

The original Café Bohemia operated from 1955 to 1960, during which time Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Kenny Dorham and many other hard bop legends played and also recorded there. By sheer coincidence, six months after this band's debut came news that the Café Bohemia had reopened as a jazz club, at its original premises in New York, after a "pause" of almost 60 years!

 

Despite this mid-50s reference point, the project spans the development of bebop from its first stirrings at Minton's Playhouse in 1941 through to its late 40s heyday, cool jazz and 50s hard bop. In addition to compositions by Clarke and Pettiford, the band's repertoire features both classics and rarities by their closest musical associates (and the leading figures of the bebop movement), in particular Dizzy Gillespie, Tadd Dameron, Fats Navarro, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.

Credited as the father of modern jazz drumming, Kenny Clarke ultimately came to embody straight-ahead playing and a commitment to musical integrity in jazz above all else. In his own words: “You don't try to complicate music, you try to make it simple, because the beauty is in the simplicity […] It's the music that's important. That's the legacy we leave behind." This project is a tribute to his and Pettiford's musical legacy and to their fellow Giants of Bop.

Learn more about the MUSIC played by the band and the composers and jazz legends covered in our repertoire. Our BLOG provides additional articles on key events, places, compositions and landmark recordings that have inspired the project.

 

Band Members

Osian Roberts (UK)

Tenor sax

Osian relocated to the Czech Republic in 2010 after studies at The Royal Academy of Music in London followed by many years of playing on the UK jazz scene. A truly great and authentic tenor saxophonist and bop expert, Osian has performed and recorded with many of the jazz world's leading figures, including Cedar Walton, Kirk Lightsey, George Mraz, Valery Ponomarev, George Freeman, Peter King, Peter Washington, Brian Charette, Jim Mullen and Kurt Elling. Among his big band credits are The Glenn Miller Memorial Orchestra, The Ronnie Scott's All-Stars Big Band, Michael Bublé, The Czech Radio Orchestra of Gustav Brom and The Jazz Dock Orchestra. He has even played with former associates of both Kenny Clarke (organist Mike Carr) and Oscar Pettiford (pianist Hod O’Brien)! His own Prague-based bebop trio, The Bopportunists, explores the legacy of Charlie Parker.
www.osianrobertsjazz.com

Alice Bauer (CZ)

Vocalist

Alice is featured in our Vocal Edition, in which she interprets bop classics and their related songs as well as timeless period recordings by Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae and Annie Ross. A uniquely versatile singer, she is equally at home in 1920s early jazz and blues and 1940s bebop as she is in rhythm and blues, contemporary a capella music and the modernism of Steve Reich. Also a pianist, linguist, translator and lyricist, she brings a rare depth of understanding, sensitivity and passion to every performance. In addition to the award-winning a capella vocal sextet SKETY, of which she is a founding member, Alice performs regularly with the Sextet of swing pianist Jiří Polydor, the Original Prague Syncopated Orchestra (OPSO), the vocal and double bass project HLAS kontra BASS, the blues groups of Czech hammond organist Jan Kořínek and various other ensembles.
www.alicebauer.cz

Ben Hague (UK)

Drums, "Project Lead"

First active as jazz musician during his UK university days, Ben has been associated with the Prague jazz scene as a guest drummer with various Czech jazz groups for over ten years (1995-98 and again since 2010), focusing on bop, swing, blues and straight-ahead styles. This is his first project as band leader. It brings together his favorite musicians and kindred spirits from the Czech jazz community to explore a body of music comprising both essential classics and new discoveries from the heyday of bop. A long-time fan of the drummer Kenny Clarke, Ben developed a band concept and repertoire based on Kenny’s career that encompasses all of bop’s leading figures but with a focus on infrequently performed or neglected parts of the discography. The greatest musicians and people HE has ever played with are right here in this all-star lineup!

Andy Schofield (UK)

Alto sax

Andy moved to Prague in 2013 after a distinguished musical career in the UK and Europe working alongside such luminaries as Kenny Wheeler, Bill Frisell, Peter Erskine, John Taylor and Anthony Braxton. An exhilarating performer, his playing marries technical fluency with profound knowledge of the jazz tradition and emotional depth. As an arranger, he has worked with and contributed arrangements to the BBC Big Band, Ronnie Scott's Club Jazz Orchestra, Bulgarian Radio Big Band, Czech Radio Big Band and most recently the fabulous Prague-based Jazz Dock Orchestra, of which he is co-leader and lead alto. His own Andy Schofield Sextet performs arrangements of jazz classics from the 1950s and 60s to the present, as well as original compositions. In a bizarre coincidence Andy and Ben share both the same birthday and town of birth (Oldham, Lancashire)!
www.andyschofieldmusic.com

Martin Jůzl (CZ)

Trumpet

Martin completes the horn section for our instrumental lineup focusing on late 1940s and 1950s selections from the band's repertoire, as well as alternating with our reed men for the band's Vocal Edition. One of the Czech Republic's top young bop-oriented trumpet stylists, he performs regularly with Miss Mikey May, HarMálek Orchestr, the Jazz Dock Orchestra and many other Czech jazz and blues ensembles.

Stanislav Mácha (CZ)

Piano

A frequent guest with the band, Standa is one of the Czech Republic's preeminent jazz pianists and most in-demand sidemen, playing with the veritable “Who’s Who” of the Czech jazz scene in numerous small groups as well as larger ensembles including (along with Andy, Martin and Osian) the Jazz Dock Orchestra. He plays with both the band’s instrumental lineup and Vocal Edition as an alternative to our regular guitar-based rhythm section.

Libor Šmoldas (CZ)

Guitar

Libor is one of the Czech Republic’s leading jazz guitarists, talents and movers and shakers of its music scene. In addition to his many projects and collaborations with top Czech and European musicians he has performed and recorded with such international stars such as George Mraz, Jeff Ballard, Bobby Watson, Adam Nussbaum, Brian Charette, Jay Anderson and Stephen Keogh. He has recorded around 25 albums as leader or sideman and his touring schedule takes him regularly not only across Europe, but also to the United States and Australia (where he has stayed for extended periods). A particular feature for Libor in this band is his masterful recreation of the legendary recorded guitar solos from the dawn of bop by the original guitar genius, Charlie Christian.
www.liborsmoldas.cz

Taras Voloschuk (UKr)

Double bass

Born in Kiev and trained as a classical violinist, Taras has been based in the Czech Republic for the last twenty years and has become a driving force in the rhythm sections of numerous jazz ensembles both as a sideman and guest.  His associations include Yvonne Sanchez, Rene Trossman, Roman Pokorný, Jan Kořínek, Valery Ponomarev and in particular the Trio of Czech pianist Najponk, of which he has been a regular member for the past ten years. In addition, he performs his own solo bass recitals blending elements of classical music, jazz and other genres and hosts the regular Sunday evening jam session at the U Malého Glena jazz club in Prague. A passionate bop lover, his dedication to hard driving, straight-ahead jazz is captured in his parting mantra "Keep swinging, man!"

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