A new solo guitar record of mine is being released on November 30th. It contains my take on songs from old
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Libor Šmoldas was born in 1982 in Olomouc but he has lived in Prague his whole life. He started with music as very young, he played the flute and the trumpet and started guitar at 12 years old. It was mainly his fascination with Charlie Parker records that led him to jazz after his beginnings in rock and blues bands.
During his studies at the Music grammar school Evropská he made his debut in Prague jazz clubs with American singer Phil Speat’s blues band and the Sunday jam sessions in U Malého Glena jazz club. He took private guitar lessons with Josef Kůstka and later with Luboš Adršt, Zdeněk Fišer and Petr Zelenka, who was an important influence to him. He was also a student at several Karel Velebný jazz work shops in Frýdlant.
After grammar school, in 2001–2003 he went on to study jazz guitar at Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory as a student of Jaroslav Šindler.
He continued his studies at the newly opened jazz department of the Jaroslav Ježek College (2003–2006) where he came on as a student of Peter Binder, Josef Štěpánek and David Dorůžka. His classmates included Jakub Doležal, Daniel Šoltis, Rastislav Uhrík, Vojtěch Procházka, Oskar Török, Roman Vícha, Ondřej Pivec, Tomáš Hobzek and other prominent musicians of the new generation.
While he was a student at the conservatory, he gradually became a part of the jazz scene in Prague. Besides the above mentioned peers, he also participated in various projects where he met NajPonk, Jaromír Honzák, Radek Zapadlo, Jiří Slavíček, Jaroslav Uhlíř and other important older generation musicians. He also played in the Polish-Cuban singer Yvonne Sanchez’s band, which he went on tour with in Turkey and Cyprus as a support band for Billy Cobham.
In 2005 in Freiburg, Libor Šmoldas won a scholarship for US Berklee College of Music, which he decided to decline and stay in Prague.
The first time he went to gather experiences to the US was in 2009. During his first two stays in New York, he studied with local jazz guitarists, including Paul Bollenback, Lage Lund, Mike Moreno, Ben Monder, Steve Cardenas and Peter Bernstein.
After some time following graduation from the music college, he went on to study jazz guitar at Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno (2010–2013) where he received his bachelor’s degree as a student of David Dorůžka and Vilém Spilka.
He finished his academic education by graduating with a master’s degree from HAMU in Prague (2016–2018), also as a student of David Dorůžka.
Organic Quartet (from 2005)
Libor Šmoldas’s first important project was the Organic Quartet (active mainly between 2005 and 2009). The group was led by organist Ondřej Pivec and, besides Libor, included other classmates from Ježek College – saxophone player Jakub Doležal and drummer Tomáš Hobzek. After their first CD entitled Don’t Get Ideas (2006) the band received the “Anděl” academy award for best jazz record of the year and started performing on European stages (Cheltenham, Sibiu, Chisinau, Beijing, Prague Spring, Paris, Athens, Sofia… ). It also won other awards, such as at the festival in Getxo, Spain, Straubing, Germany and Philips Jazz Prague. It recorded more albums, namely Never Enough (2007), Live! (2010) and Terms and Conditions Apply (2017). The frontman Ondřej Pivec moved to New York in 2009 and since then the band only performs occasionally, while still maintaining its high reputation in the Czech Republic.
Libor Šmoldas Trio (2007)
As leader, Libor first introduced himself with his debut album On the Playground (2007) with Polish drummer Łukasz Żyta and Ondřej Pivec on the organ. The very same Trio also performed in the Jazz in Rudolfinum project, where Libor’s Lydian Blues was played together with Prague Chamber Philharmonia.
Libor Šmoldas NYC Quartet feat. George Mraz, Sam Yahel & Jeff Ballard (2009–2010)
In the Summer of 2009, Šmoldas recorded his second album in New York, featuring such jazz start as bass player George Mraz, drummer Jeff Ballard and pianist Sam Yahel. The record came out in early 2010 under the title In New York In Time, and it includes some of Libor’s original compositions, as well as jazz arrangements of songs from My Fair Lady.
Libor Šmoldas Quartet (2009–2015)
After Ondřej Pivec left for the US, Libor founded a new Quartet with pianist Petr Beneš, drummer Tomáš Hobzek and bassist Josef Fečo. The band mostly played Libor’s compositions, it pefrormed between 2009 and 2014 and it put out three records: Live at Jazz Dock (2011), 18 Days, 2000 Miles (2012) and Intuition (2013). Live at Jazz Dock shows the spontaneous vibe of the band at their home stage in this iconic Prague club. 18 Days, 2000 Miles was recorded in the USA and it maps the band’s American tour. The record Intuition adds a fifth member, the legendary American saxophone player and former member of Jazz Messengers Bobby Watson, who later also performed with the quartet at festivals such as Prague Proms, Jazz Fest Brno and Il Ritmo delle Città in Milan. After five years, Libor Šmoldas Quartet had played hundreds of shows including abroad in the US, Italy, England, Poland and Bulgaria.
Libor Šmoldas NYC Quartet feat. Adam Nussbaum & Jay Anderson
Since 2012, Libor leads his NYC trio with American jazz legends drummer Adam Nussbaum and bassist Jay Anderson. They recorded three albums together: Dreamtime (2013), On the Move (2016) and Dusk (2020). The trio mostly plays Libor’s compositions and regularly performs mainly in Europe, but also in the US.
Libor Šmoldas Organ Trio
After his Quartet concluded in 2015, Libor’s main band in the Czech Republic became his new trio (Libor Šmoldas Organ trio) with organist Jakub Zomer and drummer Václav Pálka. The band mostly plays its own modern compositions inspired by the American tradition of soul-jazz bands with Hammonds from the 60’s and it leans towards a rather energetic style. Drummer Václav Pálka moved to Switzerland after the first record Lay It Down! (2017), and so the band now plays with other excellent drummers from the Czech scene, mainly Marek Urbánek, Daniel Šoltis, Tomáš Hobzek and Jiří Slavíček.
Since 2014, Libor Šmoldas has also been performing solo. He released his first solo guitar album entitled Blue, Šmoldas plays Ježek, in 2015. The recording features interpretations of the songs by the genius Czech composer, and is among his best received albums. His second solo album came out in 2019, named Silver with the subheading Sketches of the Silver Screen, contains improvized arrangements of songs from Czechoslovak films from the First republic.
With his wife, singer Vendula Šmoldasová whose artistic name is Zeurítia, Libor recorded three albums. The first, entitled Zeurítia (2008), contains mainly Brazilian bossa nova. Other musicians on this album are Polish pianist and bassist Michał Tokaj and Michał Barański (together with Czech musicians Tomáš Vokurka on drums and Miloš Dvořáček on percussions). The next recording was Weightless (2014), comprising mostly original songs, and finally the latest record Tempera (2019) where Zeurítia returns to bossa nova and sings with just Libor on the guitar and Italian drummer Francesco Petreni on percussions.
Another long-term Czech-American project of Libor’s is his trio with New York organist Brian Charette and drummer Tomáš Hobzek (who collaborated with Libor in many other projects). The group has performed since 2012 under the name SoulMates, oscillating between soul-jazz and modern jazz, and has released two albums in this style: SoulMates (2013) and Story Unfolds (2018).
Apart from the above mentioned bands, Libor Šmoldas worked with a number of other Czech and foreign musicians,
Czech Republic: Jan Kořínek & Groove, Yvonne Sanchez, Robert Balzar, Antonín Gondolán, Dušan Vančura, Jaromír Honzák, Najponk, David Dorůžka, Stanislav Mácha, Jiří Levíček, Petr Dvorský and Roman Pokorný.
USA: Skip Wilkins, Bill Warfield, Hell’s Kitchen Funk Orchestra, Bob Montgomery, Josh Quinlan, Jeff Hirshfield, Joel Frahm, Bruce Barth, Rene Marie, Nicole Henry, Leland Nakamura, Gregory Hatza, Paul Bollenback, Dan Wilkins, Mikey May and Steve Walsh.
Australia: Ingrid James, Michelle Nicole, James Morrison, Darren Heinrich, John Morrison, Ross Nixon, OJ Newcomb, Tim Neal, James Sherlock, Ronny Ferrella and Michael Jordan.
The UK: Nigel Price, Jim Mullen, Ben Hague, Pete Churchill, Arnie Somogyi, Guillermo Rozenthuler, Osian Roberts, Jeremy Chapman and Andy Schofield.
Canada: Duncan Hopkins, Terry Clark and David Beecroft.
Ireland: Stephen Keogh, Hugh Buckley, Nigel Clark and Linley Hamilton.
Spain: Perico Sambeat and Albert Sanz.
The Netherlands: Judith Nijland a Cyrille Oswald.
Germany: Christian Eckert.
Japan: Hal Tsuchida.
Slovakia: Michal Bugala.
Hungary: Kornél Fekete-Kovács.
From 2012, Libor Šmoldas has organized jazz jam sessions, which since September 2018 take place in U Staré paní jazz club in Prague.
Another regular project is a series of guitar duets since 2018. Each month, Šmoldas invites one of his colleagues for a shared concert in U Staré paní club in Prague. His collaborators have included a range of top guitarists, such as David Dorůžka, Peter Binder, Roman Pokorný, Adam Tvrdý and Josef Štěpánek.
Libor Šmoldas visits Australia regularly (since 2012), as well as the USA (since 2011), the UK and the Netherlands. He also performed in Italy, Spain, France, China, Belgium, Poland, Brazil, Greece, Turkey, Canada, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldavia, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Germany and Slovakia.
As a teacher, Libor has worked at Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory and College since 2006. He teaches guitar, ensembles and rhythm. He also teaches guitar and harmony at the Czech Jazz Workshop, since 2008. In the past, he also taught at the Jazz Workshop Australia in Sydney (2012–2016), and in workshops by Global Music Foundation in Germany, Italy and England (2011–2017) and the Summer Jazz Workshop Kryoneri in Greece (2013–2014). He also led one-time masterclasses in Australia, USA and Poland.
2014 – Letter Home was selected as Best Jazz Composition of the Year by OSA and festival Bohemia Jazz Fest
2011 – Lydian Blues was awarded as best composition with piano in the international contest PETROF AWARD
2011 – Brazilian Impressions won Best Composition in the Gramodeska contest.
With the Organic Quartet:
2009 – Straubinger Startbanh award, Straubing, Germany.
2008 – Audience award at the festival in Getxo,
2006 – Anděl award for best jazz record of the year (Don’t Get Ideas).
2005 – Band of the Year at the Philips International Jazz Festival in Prague.