Jazz trumpeter Laco Déczi turns 85

Laco Déczi

Laco Déczi is an American jazz trumpeter, composer and painter of Slovak origin. He left Bratislava for Prague in 1962, where he stayed until emigrating to the US in 1985. The jazz legend now often returns to perform in Czechia.


Ladislav „Laco“ Déczi was born on March 29, 1938, in Bernolákovo in southern Slovakia. He started learning to play the trumpet at the age of 10, setting up various amateur music groups in his teens. Even then, he was heading in a different direction than almost everyone who played jazz in Czechoslovakia at the time. Despite the prevailing trend of intellectual West Coast jazz, Deczi's amateur Bratislava groups were into the explosive hard bop from the opposite coast of America.  After arriving in Prague, he managed to infect his much older colleagues, including Czech modern jazz guru Karel Velebny, with his obsession for Clifford Brown’s jazz style.

Laczo Déczi and his band Celula | Photo: Lenka Žižková,  Radio Prague International

He joined Velebný's legendary SHQ in 1963 channeling the band’s repertoire towards authentic hard bop. He eventually formed his own band Celula and in 1970 he was a member of the Czech Radio Jazz Orchestra. After emigrating to the US in 1985 he established Jazz Celula New York, in which he managed to fuse Clifford Brown's style with the electric jazz-rock of Miles Davis, in the spirit of which Deczi's music has unfolded to the present day.

Laco Deczi has performed throughout the United States with a roster of jazz the finest musicians, among them: Elvin Jones, Bill Watrous, Junior Cook, Dave Weckl and Sonny Costanzo.