In the course of its fifteen-year existence JAZZ Q has passed through two different development periods. In the mid-sixties it was free jazz which was considered the most progressive style on the jazz scene. It is then no wonder that when in 1965 Martin Kratochvil founded his first amateur jazz band he chose this fashionable interpretative trend. Although in the beginning all the members of the combo had to overcome many difficulties arising mainly from their insufficient theoretical background as well as from their lack of experience as performers, even this embryonal form of the future professional group began to win acclaim from audiences both home and abroad. This is evidenced by the group's successes at international amateur jazz festivals in San Sebastian or in Zurich, from where the Kratochvil's band — at the time still with the flutist and saxophonist Jiri Stivin — brought home valuable trophies and first prizes.
In 1970 Jazz Q underwent a radical rebirth. Jiri Stivin left the group — in the course of time he became more and more fascinated by improvised music which could be played much more effectively with a smaller number of musicians (e.g. in a duo such as he created with the guitarist Rudolf Dasek under the heading System Tandem & Co.). Kratochvil's ideas have undergone significant changes namely as a result of his experiences from a two year stay in London where Martin became closely familiar with rock music which he had by then largely ignored. The new, fully electrified image of Jazz Q represented the origin of Kratochvil's so far most creative and contributive development phase. The combination of rock and jazz fully substituted earlier free-jazz orientation. There was even enough musical space left for blues sung by English singer Joan Duggan as documented on the album Symbiosis.
It is undoubtedly worth mentioning that with the changes in 1970 JAZZ Q began to look for an interpretative image of its own. Although its music had many things in common with what later became famous on the international scene due to John McLaughlin and Chick Corea, the first uncertain steps of Martin Kratochvil in the area of jazz-rock had to make do without help of-specific musical examples. All the more inspiring stimulus for further intensive work in the outlined direction was his meeting with Chick Corea on one stage during the festival in Pori, Finland.
The second — electric — development phase of now already professional Jazz Q has lasted with minor internal changes practically until now. (The group's activity was temporarily paralysed only for ten months in 1976-77 when Martin Kratochvil received a scholarship on the famous Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass.)
The most significant feature of the group are permanently shifting oscillations between jazz and rock. The rock elements predominated especially in the first period as shown on the album Symbiosis (Supraphon 1 15 1356); however, the jazz orientation has gradually gained strength and was markedly applied on the record Elegy (Supraphon 1 15 1983) and more recently on the album Tidings (Supraphon 1115 2450). Tidings represent still another important milestone on the road from what was originally monophonic music to current exploitation of rich harmonic structures and forms which goes beyond the limits of both jazz-rock and pop music.
The album Feast you just hold in your hands, represents the climax of this process. In specific ways it attempts to apply the European polyphony on the Afroamerican musical tradition. The melody line is not any more carried by a single instrument — all the musicians in the group take part in successive takeovers of the melody.
The opening track, Going Wild, was characterized by the composer as a simple city street tune; this uncomplicated musical phrase picks up immediately at the point where the closing composition of their last album Tidings left off, not only tonaly but also in terms of composition and formal structure — Martin Kratochvil thus wanted to express the continuity of his work in time. The second composition The Heath, employs on the other hand consistently four-part harmony written in counterpoint: every single piece of melody flows horizontally while the vertical lay-out of harmony follows only secondarily. It is worth to notice the way the main melodic theme is built — it is played by an acoustic guitar with a short after-effect in unison with a synthesizer which later takes it over automatically and changes the tonal colour. The third song — The Madonna — is dedicated to Gary Burton and attempts to recreate the musical atmosphere which this outstanding American vibraphonist evokes in his performances
The second side of the record begins with Song of the Virgin Forest, written originally as film music. The soundtrack character is documented by the colourful tonal imagery evoking the atmosphere of wild nature. Personally, however, I consider as the most interesting the next track, Dejvice Blues. While the composition maintains the characteristic mood of blues, it looks at the same time for original expressive elements derived from European musical style and avoids the classical twelve bar form as well as the conventional harmony of blues.
The closing track, Chiaroscuro, like all the other tracks on this record, shows a deliberate and complex composition. The difference between Kratochvil's approach and the area of improvised jazz is here clearly marked. The track presents a lonely tune which alternates between the bass guitar and a synthesizer. The song was originally composed as a scenic accompaniment to a fairy-tale and is again employed here in a kind of Mahlerian haze.
(Напечатана на обратной стороне конверта альбома Hodokvas/Feast)