Bohemia Jazz Fest brings big stars to small towns

This Sunday sees the start of the fourth Bohemia Jazz Fest, which brings free jazz concerts, and some of the world’s biggest names in contemporary jazz, to Prague and the Czech provinces. On the eve of the festival, here’s a preview of what to expect:

The fourth Bohemia Jazz Fest opens on Sunday evening with a massive outdoor concert on Prague’s Old Town Square. American saxophonist Chris Potter and his Underground band will be headlining. Ahead of the opening, organiser Rudy Linka is excited – he says this year’s festival will be bigger, and better, than ever:

“We are growing all the time, and so this year, we have two more cities. This year, we are in Prague, Domažlice, Plzeň, Tábor – that’s a new city – Prachatice, Telč, which is also new, and České Budějovice. And the guys who are playing, it’s just totally amazing. We have Chris Potter and his Underground band, with Adam Rogers, a great guitar player who plays with Norah Jones and Michael Brecker and all these guys, he’s a very good friend and a really good guy. That’s in Prague. There’s Medeski, Martin and Wood who are in Prague. We have Josefine Lindstrand who is from Sweden and an amazing singer.”

Another artist playing is Joshua Redman. He’ll be closing the week-long Jazz Fest in České Budějovice on July 19. At the festival, saxophonist Redman will also be receiving a special award.

Rudy Linka
With this year’s festival expected to draw even larger audiences than last year’s 60,000, it is almost impossible to imagine that as recently as a couple of months ago, it looked like the festival might not happen at all. Here’s Rudy Linka:

“You know, this year was very, very hard and difficult, and we had many problems like everybody. And it was in January that we were thinking ‘ok, maybe we should not do it and just skip that and wait for better times’. But after that everything came together, and I think there is something about jazz. Because jazz – you either love it, or you just don’t care at all. But it is nothing in between. It is not like ‘yeah, ok, we have to do this’. We don’t have to do it, it doesn’t have to be here, it is not like having to keep the subway running.”

But, says Linka, the whole thing came together, and over the next week, jazz-loving Bohemians can look forward to a whole programme of free concerts:

“Every little town is really doing its bit, and we are supported by all of the embassies which are helping us with the bands, so we have the Austrian Cultural Forum, the Danish Embassy and the Swedish Embassy. And all of these elements, all of these forces are making it happen. And I am happy because this is exactly what jazz is all about. It is not one corporate thing, it is many small things that are making it happen, it doesn’t matter what.”

For a full festival line-up and more information on the Bohemia Jazz Fest – go to the event’s website, which is