Jazz Profile: Pavel Wlosok

Pavel Wlosok  Photo: Frank Zipperer

Pavel Wlosok Photo: Frank Zipperer

by Eddie LeShure

“Pavel Wlosok is a Czechoslovakian jewel gleaming in the woods at Western Carolina University. His polished versatility and professionalism in playing/composing/teaching music and in creating his photography, as well as his incredible life journey and outstanding educational accomplishments, make him shine in many directions. It’s a treat to hear him in solo concert or to make music happen in the moment with him, for he shares a process of preparation that always assures me that we’ll enjoy our performance time together!”  ~ Elise Pratt, vocalist and event-planner

Czech pianist, composer, arranger, and educator Pavel Wlosok started playing piano when he was just five years old. He received his classical education in piano performance and composition at the Conservatory of Music in Ostrava, and he obtained his bachelor and master degrees in jazz studies at the University of North Texas. “I went in 1995 as an exchange student, originally just for one school year. I was 21 at the time and had just $1,500 in savings and one backpack with me!” While there, Pavel served as pianist-arranger for the One O’clock Lab Band and his work is included on four CDs produced by them.

“Growing up, I listened to all kinds of music, including classical, folk, rock, pop – whatever was available behind the iron curtain. Jazz was not allowed much at all and I didn’t get into it until about 16. At that time, we students started the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, which took only six weeks to change the system from communism to democracy. After the election of our first democratic post-WWII president Vaclav Havel, borders opened up and a lot of Western art started pouring into our country without any restrictions or censorship.”

Between August 2000 and 2002, Pavel served as the Director of Jazz Studies at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. Then Pavel became associate professor of jazz and commercial and electronic music at Western Carolina University, where, besides his teaching and administrative duties, he has helped to establish, organize and participate in the annual WCU Jazz Festival.

“Pavel is an incredibly fluid and natural jazz musician, tackling the most difficult repertoire with seemingly effortless facility. Hearing and watching him improvise is like watching someone breathe air – he is totally in his element whenever he is creating music.” ~ Jason DeCristofaro, percussionist

In 1999 Pavel won the prestigious Gil Evans Fellowship, given to just one recipient each year and covering both the field of composition and arranging. In April, 2006 he won the James Dooley Teaching Excellence Award, and since 2002 WCU Jazz and Combo Ensembles under his direction have performed for more than 2,500 high school students in North Carolina and surrounding states.

“An invaluable musician, composer and teacher, Pavel Wlosok’s contribution to our local community and to students at WCU are incalculable. Pavel sets high standards and produces flawless recordings, inventive compositions and thoughtful solos. Devoted and passionate to sharing the art form, he’s also great fun to listen to and play with.” ~ Sharon LaMotte, vocalist and curator

Pavel performs at many festivals and club venues in Europe each summer, among them Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Bratislava, Trnava, Banska Bystrica, Krakow and Berlin. He has performed and/or recorded with the likes of Bob Berg, Randy Brecker, Wycliffe Gordon, Tim Hagans, Ingrid Jensen, Victor Lewis, Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, Jason Marsalis, Paquito D’Rivera, Rufus Reid, Gary, Bobby Watson, Kenny Wheeler and many other top artists.

Pavel Wlosok’s contemporary compositions have been performed mainly in Europe and Japan. His newest jazz quartet release “Czechmate” features world-class saxophonist Joel Frahm, bassist and director of jazz studies at UNC-Greensboro Steve Haines, and drummer/composer Bill Campbell. Pavel’s album pending release this year features Grammy Award winning saxophonist Donny McCaslin, along with Mike Holstein on bass and Marian Sevcik on drums.

“My writing and playing is directly related to expressing my own experiences as a husband, father of three, educator, and human being. However, I do like to listen to challenging music – one which makes me think and deepens my knowledge of these two art forms called jazz and contemporary classical as I still compose in both idioms today, although jazz is my primary focus.”

www.pavelwlosok.com

 

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