We’re featuring an interview with double bassist Jiri Slavik on Contrabass Conversations this week. Jiri is an extremely accomplished bassist in both jazz and classical styles, as you can see from his biography below, and he gave a truly mesmerizing performance at the 2009 International Society of Bassists Convention. This interview took place just as Jiri was about to leave for Europe, and I feel fortunate to have gotten the chance to chat with him on his first visit to the United States!
After the interview, we feature a track titled “Coesistenza” from Jiri’s album Repose. This track also features pianist Fred Thomas (iTunes link). Learn more about Jiri at myspace.com/jirislavikmusic.
Jiri Slavik was born in Havirov, Czech Republic, into a teacher’s family with a strong musical tradition. As a child he played the violin, which he exchanged for the double bass around age 13. A year later he moved to Rome, Italy, where he attended St Stephen’s School and eventually also the Santa Cecilia Conservatoire (Massimo Giorgi’s double bass class). In the summer of 2004 he graduated from both of these institutions, always with the highest attainable marks (the seven-year long double bass course at the conservatoire took him three years to finish).
After having been offered a full scholarship from the Royal Academy of Music, Jiri moved to London, UK, to pursue his studies, first in classical double bass with Duncan McTier, later on in jazz composition with Barak Schmool. After three years he finished the four years long programme with “First Class Honours”.
Since August 2007 he lives as a freelance musician and a composer in Paris, France. He has attended masterclasses under the direction of jazz celebrities such as Dave Holland, Jeff „Tain“ Watts, Larry Grenadier, Jeff Ballard, Kenny Wheeler or contemporary music authorities like Pierre Laurent-Aimard or Peter Maxwell Davies. During his years at the Academy he was the first double bassist of the Concert Orchestra under the direction of Colin Davis or a chosen soloist at the Paganini Festival (2006). With the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris he played Bach’s St Matthew Passion in the Notre Dame or performed in the Théâtre des Champs-Elyseés.
As a soloist he has appeared in the Santa Cecilia hall of the auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome or in a program of the Czech Television Koncert na kurtech. With pianist Fred Thomas he made two live recordings for the Czech Radio, as well as the album Repose (F-IRE label, London). His music is in an independant German film production “Oury Jalloh” (www.ouryjalloh-derfilm.de), which won the German Human Rights Film prize, category amateur film, for 2008.