An East Anglian in the Eastern Bloc

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’.

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The Chattanooga Choo Choo, arriving at Manchester Piccadilly

Just about a year on from my first uncovering the fact that Helena Blehárová was perhaps the only one of my ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ from Czechoslovakia to have actually performed on stage in this country, at the Manchester Jazz Festival of 1964, I just happen, this morning, quite by accident, to have encountered this video (up on YouTube since 3rd July this year, by ‘Pepan’) of her singing, in English – so maybe this would have been one of the songs she would have performed in Manchester – that old Big Band Era number, ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’, being given a more contemporary ‘twist’ by the accompanying dancers, dancing, well, what else but the Twist?

Although this video is way outside the core of the GOTGE Era it perhaps feeds into a musical interest of mine which was very much contemporaneous with those early-1970s days. For a time in that period family members of members of the Glenn Miller-style Syd Lawrence Orchestra (not just core family members, either) had the perk of free tickets to their concerts. My uncle, Frank Dixon, was the Lead Trombonist, so Mum, Dad, Julian and I could all get into the Syd Lawrence Orchestra’s concerts, free-of-charge, at the King’s Hall in Derby, which was also the Queen Street Baths – now Queen’s Leisure Centre, made world-famous as the place where the breaststroking ace, Adam Peaty, started his swimming career – with the pool temporarily covered over, so the audience were sitting over water. Here is Uncle Frank with the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, playing ‘I’m Getting Sentimental Over You’ on the 1970 LP, ‘Big Band Sounds’.

This also ties in with the French star with the same birthday as me who started off the journey of musical discoveries in cyberspace that ended up in Eastern Europe, Carene Cheryl, since here she is (on 28th August 1978, on the show «TV Music Hall») showing off the skills that won her the First Prize at France’s National Conservatoire for Drumming.

I had a hankering for going into drumming in the early 1970s and, chatting to the members of the Syd Lawrence Orchestra after one of their King’s Hall concerts, I mentioned this to the orchestra’s drummer, Fergie Maynard, who promptly presented me with a pair of Premier drumsticks.

I will not pretend that the drumming career of this child of 19th July has ever reached the heights of that of the rather better-known one from France!

According to Robert Rohál’s book – from which I have hitherto taken this information – ‘Legendy Československe populární hudby’ it was 1964 when Helena came to Manchester.

However, according to this source, at the National Jazz Archive’s site, that date should have been taken one year back in time. We also have the bonus of an exact date and venue – to be precise, Friday, 7th June 1963, at Belle Vue.

Until now, it has been my impression that Helena would only have gone to Manchester – given a birth date of 28th June 1943 and the fact that she moved from her home city of Žilina to Brno aged nineteen – after that move. If she was in Manchester still aged just nineteen it is possible that that ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ referred to in the title of this post could have been arriving directly from Žilina, rather than passing through Brno on the way!

It is very gratifying to see Karel Vlach mentioned in that National Jazz Archive site – as accompanying Valérie Čižmárová in ‘Pojď jen dál’, here on the TV show ‘3.program Orchestru Karla Vlacha’ (‘3rd Programme Of The Karel Vlach Orchestra’), on Helena’s 30th birthday of 28th June 1973.

It seems like I’ll have to take a trip to Belle Vue next 7th June, then, in my ‘Girls Of The Golden East’-related Pop Pilgrimages!

La mulți ani, Margareta, Angela, și Mirabela (70.)!

Today’s date marks three birthdays in ‘GOTGE-land’. Furthermore, these are three birthdays all from the same country – Romania.

9th July is the birthday of – in order of birth – Margareta Pâslaru (74 today), Angela Similea (71 today) and Mirabela Dauer (exactly 70 today).

Perhaps the most notable new material to have come to my attention regarding this auspicious occasion of late is this excellent – and, what’s more, entirely self-composed – song from that increasingly important year of 1973, ‘Timpul’ (‘Time’), released as simply ‘Margareta’, accompanied by Orchestra Alex. Avramovici.

Here are the lyrics, (credited to ‘Margareta Pîslaru’) together with an IMTranslator-based translation, suitably modified, from the original Romanian into English, some of which sort of sum up my feelings regarding my relationship with the World of GOTGE.

Timpul
Timpul te nvata atatea lucruri noi
Te ajuta astazi sa ntelegi
Tot ce ieri nu stiai sa vezi
Timpul , timpul
As da orice
Sa ntorc timpul inapoi
Sa regasesec tot ce am pierdut
Sa ndrept raul ce am facut

time
Time teaches you many new things
It helps to understand today
All yesterday you could not see
Time, Time
I would give anything
To come back during back
All I lost was regasesec
I’m heading to the river made

As da orice
Sa ntorc timpul inapoi
Sa regasesec tot ce am pierdut
Sa ndrept raul ce am facut

I would give anything
To come back during back
All I lost was regasesec
I’m heading to the river made

Timpul
Te a preschimbat din copil in om matur
Ti a adus iubirea
Si tot el ti a luat o inapoi
Timpul , timpul
As da orice
Sa ntorc timpul inapoi
Sa regasesec tot ce am pierdut
Sa ndrept raul ce am facut

time
He exchanged the child mature man
Ti brought love
And he took it back to you
Time, Time
I would give anything
To come back during back
All I lost was regasesec
I’m heading to the river made

As da orice
Sa ntorc timpul inapoi
Sa regasesec tot ce am pierdut
Sa ndrept raul ce am facut
Timpul iti da mereu cate ceva
Dar iti ia ntr o zi
Fara sa stii chiar viata ta
Timpul , timpul

I would give anything
To come back during back
All I lost was regasesec
I’m heading to the river made
Time always gives you something
But it takes NTR one days
Without knowing even your life
Time, Time

As da orice
Sa ntorc timpul inapoi
Sa regasesec tot ce am pierdut
Sa ndrept raul ce am facut

I would give anything
To come back during back
All I lost was regasesec
I’m heading to the river made

As da orice
Sa ntorc timpul inapoi
Sa regasesec tot ce am pïerdut
Sa ndrept raul ce am facut

I would give anything
To come back during back
All I lost was regasesec
I’m heading to the river made

It would appear that this is yet more entirely natively-conceived, very Soul-like 1970s Pop originating from the former Eastern Bloc.

Don’t do as The Pet Shop Boys sang! Go East!

Now it has been established that my recently-published article for the ‘Englishman In Slovakia’ blog has reached its conclusion the original, full article, together with its associated media, can be published here without my being in breach of contract.

Here it is.

Englishman_In_Slovakia_Article

Here is the ‘chart run-down’ to go with the article.

No. 6

No. 5

No. 4

No. 3

No. 2

No. 1

Všetko najlepšie k narodeninám, Helenka!

Well, it seems I ‘only’ forgot Helena Vondráčková’s 70th birthday four days back!

So, I’m certainly not going to forget that other Helena (Blehárová) today.

To celebrate, here’s one I haven’t embedded before – 1968’s ‘Tak dávno’ (‘So Long Ago’) by Bohuslav Ondráček (music) and Zdeněk Rytíř (lyrics), with instrumental accompaniment from Orchestr Karla Krautgartnera under Josef Vobruba and backing vocals from Sbor Lubomíra Pánka…showing what a Soulful Lady she is.

Všetko najlepšie k narodeninám, Janka!

Just time, like three days ago, to get something in to mark Jana Kocianová’s birthday.

Here is the second side to her 1972 single, ‘Zahoď  starosti’, ‘Keď na tam-tam’, by Ali Brezovský (music) and Boris Droppa (lyrics), with instrumental accompaniment from Tanečný orchestr Čs. rozhlasu v Bratislava, under Vieroslav Matušík.

Very nice video shot in what looks like the streets of Petržalka, which brings back a few memories.

Všechno nejlepší k narozeninám, Jituš!

A bit on the late side now for Central European Time…but just to say a ‘Happy Birthday!’ to Jitka Zelenková.

It is only relatively recently that I have discovered that Jituš’s ‘Caesar a Kleopatra’ (whose title needs little translating!), recorded on 28th June 1971 at the studios at Dejvice, Prague, with music by Petr Janda, lyrics by Michael Prostějovský, instrumental accompaniment from Taneční orchestr Čs. rozhlasu (The Czechoslovak Radio Dance Orchestra) under Josef Vobruba featured none other than Valérie Čižmárová (along with Svatava Černá) on backing vocals. This is even having known about that song for over a year now, which doesn’t sound all that long in global terms, but in the world of GOTGE that is an eternity!

Here it is….and no wonder I liked it!