Having looked into what was properly titled the Daily Mail International Jazz Festival of 1963, taking place from 6th to 9th June, where a nineteen-year-old Helena Blehárová performed, amongst other songs, ‘Moonlight In Vermont’, my attention has been drawn to another one of the artists appearing at the Festival – Beryl Bryden.
It transpires that Beryl Bryden was born in Norwich, and would appear to have had a Czech-language version of her name (‘Beryl Brydenová’), on account of having been released, on more than one occasion, so it would appear, on the Czech labels, Supraphon and Gramofonový Klub.
If one takes a closer look (‘More images’) at her album from 1968, ‘Beryl Bryden a Pražský Dixieland’, one notes that it was recorded at the studios at Dejvice, Prague, with these three names amongst the recording personnel: Mojmír Balling, František Řebíček and Jiří Brabec, all of whom worked with none other than Valérie Čižmárová on her eponymous album at Dejvice at precisely that time of year, six years afterwards.
Another singer who has worked with Pražský Dixieland is Jitka Vrbová, whose maiden surname was Kočaříková. It would appear that, as Jitka Kočaříková, she was in the group, Fortuna….and who else should have been a member of Fortuna but Petra Černocká, whose ‘Koukej, se mnou si píseň broukej’ was featured as one of the medley of five ‘oldies’ that was the opening track of Valérie Čižmárová’s aforementioned album!
This has to be considered an extraordinary set of musical connections in itself. However, it gets even more so when one considers some personal ones relating to ‘yours truly’.
My mother’s first name was Beryl and she was an amateur operatic singer whose first leading role with Derby’s Laurence Lee Operatic Society was as Mařenka in Bedřich Smetana’s ‘Prodaná nevěsta’ (‘The Bartered Bride’), in both Valérie Čižmárová’s birth year of 1952 and at the age when Valérie Čižmárová’s recording career would have been at its height.
I am – despite being born and brought up in Derbyshire – an adoptive fan of Norwich City, who, like Helena Blehárová’s home city club, MŠK Žilina, play in yellow and green, which, interestingly enough, were – talking of Manchester – Manchester United’s team colours in the club’s formative years as Newton Heath, as re-visited as a change strip in the very early days of the English Premier League and again in the ‘green and gold’ protests against the ownership of the club by the American Glazer family, resulting in Norwich City fans visiting Old Trafford chanting at the green and gold protestors, “We’re Norwich City, we’re here for our scarves!”
So, for one, as myself, being the person in charge of ‘Girls Of The Golden East’, I do not think that there could be a more coincidental constellation than a singer whose first name was Beryl coming from the city of my adoptive football club, being at a festival in a city also associated with yellow and green in respect of football with another singer from a yellow and green footballing city in the Slovak portion of Czechoslovakia, recording in Czechoslovakia in the year when I really first became aware of the place, at the studios where my eventual favourite ‘Girl Of The Golden East’ would go on to record – alongside some of the same recording personnel – a song by someone who worked with an artist who was accompanied by the same group as the aforementioned Beryl.
Could one make that up?
By way of signing off this post in style, the following video, of the First Semi-Final Evening at the Bratislavská Lýra of 30th May to 2nd June 1973, is the reason why Valérie Čižmárová recorded ‘Koukej, se mnou si píseň broukej’ as an ‘oldie’ on her album, since Petra Černocká was due to perform it herself, but was indisposed, so Valérie Čižmárová was called in as an understudy. It is the sixth song in, immediately following on from Helena Blehárová, interestingly enough. Other cracking names to look out for are: Vlaďka Prachařová (with Karel Zich) (fourth song), Eva Kostolányiová (eighth song) and Marie Rottrová (tenth song).
Since this is a video originating from Slovakia (by ‘RETRO SLOVAK’) Valérie Čižmárová is listed under the first name ‘Valéria’. I have contacted Aleš Korábek concerning this apparent ‘error’ in Slovak-based sources. She was indeed named ‘Valéria’ at birth, but on moving to the Czech-speaking part of the country, where the local variant is ‘Valérie’, her official professional name was harmonised with that variant, variously with and without the accent over the middle ‘e’.