Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Prague Blogging: Pokorný at Dinitz

Náměstí Republiky was formerly a sketchy area of Prague, but is now an up-and-coming nabe thanks to the new Palladium mall. It is also home to Dinitz, a relatively new jazz venue, which hosted jazz guitarist Roman Pokorný last Tuesday. Pokorný was one artist I wanted to catch while I was in Prague. After recording some pretty groovy, straight ahead releases, his recent CDs have been more fusion influenced. However, his set last week at Dinitz was an earthy, stripped down blues session (though billed as a duo, including Pokorný, it was actually a trio).

Pokorný kept things loose, leading his rhythm section through some legit blues standards like “Stormy Monday,” “The Thrill is Gone,” and “Sweet Home Chicago.” His relaxed English vocals were pleasing enough, and he showed a natural affinity for old school blues guitar. He even threw in a bluegrass interlude for fun.

Besides myself and the people I dragged there, Pokorný had a decent sized following at Dinitz. He is interesting to follow, as he continues to branch out in different directions. The simple approach of his blues trio is in fact more satisfying to my ear than his fusion combos heard on his recent Hot Jazz News and Two Faces: Blues Box Heroes, but are both still recommended (Faces in particular features a lovely guest vocal turn from Yvonne Sanchez on “Magic Night”). Frankly though, I’m still most partial to his greasier soul-jazz fare, like “Smoking at the Little Castle” and “Grunt Groove” heard on Arta’s Trio ’03. Coincidently, if you happen to be in Prague, you can catch them at Dinitz again tonight.

There is no cover and the food is pretty good. The American-style burger is decent, but because they overly slather both sides in mayo, it keeps sliding out of the bun (what other music blog gives you inside dope like this?). We returned the next night to hear the Mario Illes Trio, a Hot Club style string combo. The Illes Trio is not as established on the Prague scene, but their sets were certainly enjoyable. Dinitz seems to book an interesting mix of established and emerging Czech musicians, and its drink prices are pretty reasonable. Check it out next time you’re in Prague 1.