Born: June 27, 1973 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
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 albumYou 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.
Awards:Talent of the year 1992 (Czech Jazz Society) Czech Grammy Nomination (1997 Czech Recording Academy) Tenor and Alto Saxophonist of the year 1998 (Czech Jazz Society) Golden Angel Nomination (2004 Czech Recording Academy)
Michael Brecker on album Brooklyn moods: “Your CD sounds great!!! Wonderful work from a great saxophonist!”
Michael Brecker : “With his full-bodied sound and vast fluency of ideas, Karel has an amazing facility on his instrument. Furthermore, his music is a combination of many different musical styles, displaying a high level of sensitivity and expression.”
Ravi Coltrane: “Karel Ruzicka Jr. is an important young musician.His contributions, I feel, are needed here in the city.”
Disclaimer: All About Jazz is not responsible for the accuracy of the discographical data at the website(s) provided. If a link is no longer valid, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Karel is teaching students from beginners to advanced. He is on the faculty of New York Jazz Academy and teaches privately. Karel teaches saxophone and flute performance, piano for composers and improvisation. The lessons emphasize tone production and development of improvisational skills - listening, II-VI-I progressions, modal and chromatic approaches to building the melodic lines, rhythmic awareness and ability to tell the "story" while soloing.
Karel's clinics consist of two main goals: 1) Helping you find your individual voice on the saxophone through development of a beautiful tone and smooth technique. 2) Ability to play and improvise on different types of tunes in both small and large ensembles.