Roman Pokorný - jazz, blues and crossover guitarist
What made you want to become a jazz musician and composer? And why did you choose the guitar as your instrument?
I come from a musical family which goes back six generation. My father plays accordion, keyboard and trumpet, my grandfather played accordion and drums. We had a lot of instruments at home. I especially loved the accordion and drum kit. I started playing music in my childhood with my father and grandfather. First I played drums, then bass guitar. When I was 15, I started playing guitar - it was necessary, because I couldn't practice the drums at the hostel (boarding school) in Prague. So I bought my first guitar for 150 CZK. In the 70's, music was all I needed! Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and many others – they were my heroes. Long hair and guitar!
Which recording was the most 9 influential at the start of your playing? Why?
It's very hard to say which record was the most important. I began to feel the music very early. Probably when I was three, but I think that the most important period was when I was in primary school, when I started listening to hard rock, art rock and blues. I remember a very good double LP compilation of blues, published by the Czech label, Supraphon – 'Anthology of Blues'. It had all the great blues musicians - Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and many others. But I know exactly what was first in Jazz. It was Jim Hall - Concierto de Aranjuez and Wes Montgomery - Boss Guitar! A later influence that I could mention is Wynton Marsalis' – 'Black Codes (from the Underground)'.
Who are the most inspiring players for you right now?
I don't have any specific ones at this time. I am trying to develop my style further, but I still love a lot of good music. I also have a greater insight than before. I'm listening to classical music as well as ethno, country and heavy metal.
Your music crosses between Blues (Blue Box Heroes) and modern jazz - what is your musical 'main line'?
My main line is 'everything I fell, I play'! I love jazz and blues, but in my music there are many different influences. I'm still open to getting something new in my 'music heart'!
I heard you have strong views about guitars and amplifiers – what is your
chosen guitar and amplifier? Why?
This is a very complex issue, which is highly dependent on the personal taste of each
guitarist. The longer I play, the more I find myself returning to the classic concept of electric guitar playing. I play Gibson guitars and Marshall or Mesa Boogie amplifiers. I love the A class conception of tube amplifier, which is actually the oldest direct way to connect the instrument and the amplifier. I also love acoustic Martin guitars.
Can you tell us something about your most recent recording?
My last recording session was in studio Svarov. Ten Musicians were in the studio and it was a great experience - 3 horns, a Hammond organ, 2 Guitars, drums, percussions, blues harp, bass. They are my songs, but the horn arrangements are by Osian Roberts. There are some great musicians on this recording: Martin Sulc, Jan Korinek, Matyas Priborski, Milos Dvoracek and others. I hope it will be released soon, but sadly it depends on the help of a sponsor.
What is the most important project you would like to do?
I want to play in a trio again, with my friend and great double bass player Petr Dvorsky and with Tomas Hobzek on drums. We will play some of my older stuff and my new compositions.
What is the most challenging gig you have played? Why?
I will never forgot one gig in Agharta club in Železná street. It was a very hot summer and the clubs air conditioning wasn't working! It was at least 100°C and the people were smoking... I had to stop playing and go out for fresh air! I was very close to physically collapsing!
What do you think about the jazz and blues scene in Prague right now?
I think that the jazz and blues scene in Prague is on a very high level. I'm so happy that there are so many good musicians in Prague!
What do you like about performing at U Maleho Glena?
I have to say, I love this place! It feels like home here. Musicians can be so close to the audience.
Is there something else you would like to say on this hot August day?
I hate wasps!!!
© Tony Addy & Roman Pokorny August 2011