Award winning saxophonist, composer and producer Karel Ruzicka Jr. has a way to captivate the audience in practically any musical context. It was already evident back in 1992 when his group "The Four" was awarded the first prize at the International Jazz Festival in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic in 1992. Their appearance at the prestigious Jazz a Vienne in France that summer was received with standing ovation. The group released their album "Space and Rhythm in 1994 to a great critical acclaim. Karel Ruzicka Jr. then briefly visited his future home of New York and met many great jazz artists including trumpeter Roy Hargrove. Consequently in 1996 he was called upon to fill in for saxophonist Ron Blake in the Roy Hargrove quintet on their European tour. Karel's tenor and soprano saxophone graces over 100 albums. His debut as a leader album"You Know What I Mean" (ARTA -1997) was nominated for the Czech Grammy in 1998 and the following year the album "Spring Rolls Quartet" was elected the Czech Jazz Recording of the Decade. After these early successes Ruzicka relocated to NYC, where he studied with saxophonists Bob Mintzer, Rick Margitza, George Garzone and Joe Lovano. His most recent album as a leader "Brooklyn Moods" was nominated for a "Golden Angel" award (The new name for the Czech Grammy). The album features pianist Bruce Barth, Czech-born bassist George Mraz and drummer Brandon Lewis. He is often touring with contemporary jazz singer Michael Franks as well as his working quartet. The list of artists Karel has played with is long: Ben E. King, George Benson, Hiram Bullock (SNL, Sting), Joe Locke, Bob Mintzer, Charles Blenzig (keyboardist and MD for Michael Franks and Gato Barbieri), Ravi Coltrane, Benny Rietveld (bassist for Miles Davis and Carlos Santana), Cindy Blackman , Fred Wesley (James Brown, George Clinton), Jeff "Tain" Watts, Steve Hass, Gavin Degraw, ELEW and many others.
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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."
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