US, local jazzmen on tour

IT IS not common for Slovak musicians to regularly collaborate with well-known US performers. However, Slovak bassist Juraj Griglák has now wrapped up his second tour with American jazz drummer Poogie Bell. In 2012, Griglák toured with Bell’s band in the UK, Austria and Slovakia. This time around, Griglák performed shows with American musicians in the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium, and afterwards Bell joined Griglák’s band and toured Slovakia with them, before moving on to the Czech Republic.

Poogie Bell (R) with Michal Bugala (L) at a concert in NuSpirit, Bratislava.Poogie Bell (R) with Michal Bugala (L) at a concert in NuSpirit, Bratislava. (Source: Rudolf Baranovič)

IT IS not common for Slovak musicians to regularly collaborate with well-known US performers. However, Slovak bassist Juraj Griglák has now wrapped up his second tour with American jazz drummer Poogie Bell. In 2012, Griglák toured with Bell’s band in the UK, Austria and Slovakia. This time around, Griglák performed shows with American musicians in the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium, and afterwards Bell joined Griglák’s band and toured Slovakia with them, before moving on to the Czech Republic.

“We met through Facebook,” Bell told The Slovak Spectator about how his collaboration with the Slovak bassist began. “He asked me to record on his new solo album he was working on. That’s how we first met. This is the good side of social networks – there is always a good side to everything.”
Bell added that after a short tour in 2012, on which they “had a good time”, they played a series of concerts in Europe, and when Griglák asked him to continue playing together across Slovakia, he agreed.

The Slovak Spectator spoke to both musicians at the Nu Spirit Club in Bratislava, where Griglák & Company - Czech saxophonist Ondřej Štveráček and Slovaks Michal Bugala (guitar) and Eugen Vizváry (keyboards) - played with Bell on April 3. When asked about whether it was difficult to coordinate the tour, both musicians agreed that it was quick and trouble-free.

“We share the same musical tastes, so we just had two rehearsals and we played our repertoire,” Griglák said.

“You have two types of musicians,” Bell added. “The one who practices at home, then comes onstage and plays by himself; and then you have the musician who practices at home, comes to the gig and listens – and plays with the other people on the stage. I pride myself on being a person that listens; I always try to do anything and everything I can to make the music sound better. And even if I find myself in a situation with one of those guys who is not paying attention or not listening, hopefully at some point during the night, it will start to rub off. Music is a group sport; one has to pay attention and listen, and be supportive.”

The audience in the downtown Bratislava club reacted enthusiastically to the band’s jazz-funk compositions, including pieces by Bell, Griglák, Vizváry as well as other musicians.

“We had good responses in all Slovak venues,” Griglák said. “The biggest audience was probably in Martin, around 300 people.”

Apart from the capital, they also played clubs in Nové Mesto nad Váhom, Martin, Tatranská Lomnica, and in the Alžbetka patisserie in Žarnovica. The last venue was Jazz Dock in the Czech capital.

Griglák said that they are planning more concerts in Slovakia for this August, and Bell will play on his upcoming album.

When asked about playing in smaller clubs in a small country like Slovakia, Bell answered: “I have performed for anything and everything you can imagine, from a huge stadium to a tiny restaurant. I’ve done everything from the biggest to the smallest, and everything in between. I don’t look at it as big or small – I look at it as an opportunity to make music.”

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