The revolutionary history of Prague’s first jazz hall
The Reduta Jazz Club is an iconic Prague concert hall with a wide international reputation. The first of its kind in Europe, Reduta’s story tells the enduring and passionate traits of Czech culture.
Back on the history of this revolutionary place.
The Reduta Jazz Club was born in the turbulent 20th century in then Czechoslovakia. During these dramatic years, Europe faced two world wars, the Cold War and many other conflicts which destroyed, repressed and seriously altered the cultural landscapes of the region.
In the midst of this, the Czech Republic was forced to continually reinvent itself, redefine its borders and political allies, and it was out of this atmosphere of uncertainty that Reduta was born. The first of its kind in Europe, Reduta opened in 1957 through a commitment to the owner’s art and other budding artists in Prague.
From its opening, the Reduta Jazz Club has become an icon in Prague. It represented a venue for expression in an era of political conformity, and this resulted in some of the most exciting jazz and cabaret performances of the era.
The iconic performance style here was “Text-Appeals”: a literary cabaret that fused improvisations into words and music. Through this fusion of art forms, Reduta saw names like Jiří Suchý, Ivan Vyskočil, Jiří Stivín and Martin Kratochvíl under one roof.
During the years under the political leadership of Alexander Dubček, the jazz club suffered from the normalization policies that were applied. These saw the government take tighter control over culture and daily life, and so the relative freedom that had allowed Reduta to flourish was slowly being suppressed.
In decline compared to what it had become, Reduta has maintained its reputation as a small cultural oasis and point of resistance. In an effort to further suppress this rebel status, the jazz club lost private property and was bought out by a larger agency.
Ironically, however, it was this transition that would make the Reduta Jazz Club even more central as a socio-political meeting place. The international status of the new owners brought names such as Wynton Marsalis, Chris Barber and Aki Takase to the Reduta scene, and with it the political and artistic elite were able to meet in Prague.
Despite the battle against thick and thin, the Reduta Jazz Club had flourished as a place of free expression and artistic discovery.
Reduta Jazz Club Today
Since the Velvet Revolution and the start of today’s Czech Republic, the Reduta Jazz Club has maintained its status as a place “where political and cultural people meet”.
A perfect symbol for this occurred in 1994 when Bill Clinton jumped on stage to play tenor saxophone in one of the jam sessions.
The venue offers theater and jazz programs and hosts other musical evenings such as mainstream, funky, fusion, Latin, blues, soul and gospel.
Supporting aspiring musicians and industry, Reduta also organizes competitions, jam nights and festivals for musicians of different skill levels. The theater offers a range of shows, including the famous Black Light Theater in Prague.