Born St. Patrick's Day, 1946, in Prague, Bohemia.
Son of a pianist mother, one of Czechoslovakia's top musical pedagogues, and of a cellist father, the Deputy Concert Master of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, he was encouraged with a thorough education in playing the piano, intonation and musical theory. Her received private tuition from his father's colleague, the Principal Clarinettist of the same orchestra, a virtuoso performer and great admirer of Benny Goodman. He graduated from the Conservatoire of Prague in 1967.
With a father who frequently toured the world and brought home records, he was influenced by Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Sidney Bechet, Omer Simeon, Duke Ellington, Jack Teagarden, Coleman Hawkins and many others. An initial live jazz influence was clarinettist Edmund Hall who toured Czechoslovakia in 1958. Began to learn to improvise to recordings of the Australian legend Graeme Bell who toured the country and made recordings a decade earlier.
1962: First public appearance on clarinet at a jam session during the International Jazz Festival in Prague, playing alongside Acker Bilk and His Paramount Jazz Band.
1963-1968: Performed with The Cats Jazz Band and with the Jazz Fiddlers. After graduation from the Conservatoire, worked for the Czechoslovak Radio on a series of jazz programmes and became Assistant Editor of Melodie, a jazz and popular music magazine.
1969: Joined the State Theatre of Aussig (northern Bohemia) in March and appeared, with the Jazz Fiddlers, at the International Jazz Festival in San Sebastian, Spain, in July. Moved to West Berlin and toured Germany with a band supporting Albert Nicholas.
1970-1973: Continued to work in Germany until late 1971 and, due to a complicated ankle fracture, rested during much of 1972. Became clarinet teacher in November 1972 at the Steglitz Music School in Berlin. Married Georgina, a ballet dancer, in June 1973.
1974: Tours of West Germany and Switzerland with a Zurich-based Dixieland band. Worked with a band accompanying Freddie Kohlman and with the Savoy Gang, a Swing quartet.
1978: In demand on the London Jazz scene, playing with many U.K. names and resident at Soho's Zanzibar Club with Stan Greig and Johnny Parker. Later worked with Haens'che Weiss Quintet, a Berlin-based Manouche formation mixing Django Reinhardt's tradition with influences from the eastern European Gypsy folklore and Brazilian music.
1979-1984: Founded the Hallmark Swingtet in Berlin. Promotional and corporate performances for a wide range of companies, institutes and municipal bodies. Work in radio and television. Played regularly and broadcasted with the Berlin All Stars.
1985-1990: Back in London, playing West End and South Bank venues, and composing. Residencies at the Misty Club, Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria, at Le Dingy Club, St. Barthelemy, French West Indies, and at the Casa Bar, Zurich, Switzerland. Wrote the musical arrangements for Eggy Ley's "Prohibition and All That Jazz" show. Worked with ex-Fats Waller guitarist Al Casey. Jazz festival appearances in Cork, Edinburgh and The Hague.Toured Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and the United Kingdom with Max Collie Rhythm Aces.
1991: With pianist Mick Pyne, guitarist Nils Solberg, double bassist John Rees-Jones, and drummer Rex Bennett, formed Capital Swing, resident ensemble in Chelsea Harbour. Played last stints with Bob Wallis at the Casa Bar.
1992-1998: With Yves "Little Fats" Guyot and Eric Luter, residencies in Oberland Bernaise. With his Capital Swing, appearances, recordings and tours in the United Kingdom, Spain, Switzerland, France and Germany. Appearances with Adelaide Hall, Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball and Larry Adler. Tours and festival appearances in Bohemia, Sweden and Slovakia with the Prague Jazzphonics and recordings with ensembles led by Allan Bradley and by George Polydor.
1999-2002: Relocation to Berlin and temporary semi-retirement from music.
2003-2010: After yet another relocation, this time to picturesque rural setting of Upper Franconia, northern Bavaria, touring Austria, Bohemia, Denmark, France, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom with various ensembles led by Alexander Katz, Andy Lawrence, Bernard Flegar, George Polydor, Herbert Christ, Keith Smith and Max Collie. Extensive work and tours of Austria, Germany, Mauretania and Senegal with Manouche ensemble led by Vano Bamberger. Tour of Andalusia and a festival appearance in Denmark with his Capital Swing.
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From Keith Hall
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Jaijai, what a wonderful mission you've undertaken to create such a place for artistic minds to meet and share their hearts. A place to renew faded determinations, and revive lessened momentums. A place to display our wares and reconfirm to one another that we actually are on the right track.
I commend you, Jaijai, for caring so much that you created this castle of the heart for all of us. I want to share my praise for all of the new friends as well as old friends that I've met and will meet here in our castle. Here we can garnish the where-with-all, the strength, the conviction, and the selflessness through our symbiosis, to share our gift to the world with an unbiased agenda.
My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda says of art: "A beautiful flower delights and refreshes the hearts of all people equally, no matter what soil it grows in. That is the power of beauty. The same is true of great art. It is this spirit that the German poet Heinrich Heine sang of when he wrote that once the peapod bursts open, the sugar peas inside are for everyone to enjoy."