Photo by Martin Něrgeš
René’s interview was full of interesting wisdom. Rarely do you meet an individual so dedicated to sport and fitness that also happens to play the saxophone very very well – a hell of a combination. He gives us a rundown on Wing Tsun martial arts and the odd connection it has to the saxophone as well as telling us about a real fight he was in on a Prague tram. A fine edition to the People in Prague hall of fame. Enjoy!
Are you originally from Prague?
Actually, I’m not. I’m from a small town called Hořovice. It is about 50km from Prague on the way to Plzen. But I’ve been living in Prague for more than 10years.
Tell us a little bit about how you began playing the saxophone?
The reason why I picked the saxophone was because nobody wanted a clarinet 🙂 Sounds funny but it was the sad truth. I had been playing clarinet for 10 years before I had my first band experience. I didn’t find any bands that wanted me. I always heard “Rene you play well but you should buy a saxophone!”, so I did and I got 3 offers from different bands and I still didn’t even know how to play it!
What kind of work do you do with it now?
I’m still focusing on performing and doing shows.
What has been the greatest moment that you’ve had playing so far? Any special performances that you’ll never forget?
Ohh…yeah….I’ve had lots of great experiences, like playing for a packed Sasazu or traveling abroad. But I will never forget one wedding at Žofín in Prague. It was a Czech-Australian wedding and right before me there was a philharmonic couple playing a beautiful Dvořák symphony and I was up next with house music on the saxophone! So different! I was a bit scared because I didn’t want to spoil the romantic atmosphere, but I was told by the wedding coordinator to stick to the plan. To my surprise the people loved the music I played and in one minute the wedding turned into a crazy disco party!
Where is a good place for jazz and blues in Prague?
I think Jazz Dock is interesting to see. It’s a place on the river with great food and great sound.
Are you influenced by any great saxophonists or other musicians?
I’m influenced by many great saxophonists and also other musicians. But it would be a really long list if I name them all. Some though include, Dake Koz, Everette Harp, Michael Lington, Candy Dulfer, Boney James, Steve Cole… Brian Culbertson (piano), Peter White (guitar).
Many say that the saxophone is one of the sexiest instruments around, would you agree?
Yes, it is one of the sexiest instruments in the world…I can confirm it. When I walk into a club nobody pays attention to me but when I blow some tunes I’m immediately the sexiest guy there. 🙂
Any girls ever thrown their underwear at you on stage?
Heh…Not yet…still waiting for that.
Do you play any other music?
I play various styles of music from smooth jazz, latino, R&B or pop to modern electronic house music. I also do live improvisations with DJs.
Tell us about your other hobbies.
My second love is sport, especially martial arts. I’ve been doing it for 12years and believe it or not, it influenced my saxophone playing the most.
And how it influence that?
That is a very good and hard question to answer. Music and martial arts have a lot in common, although lots of people would put it differently. I started to play the saxophone when I had almost a 1st Technician grade in Wing Tsun (which is something like a black belt) and I had my own martial arts school. Wing Tsun is a great system (Bruce Lee did it before he went to the USA) and I met the right people who understood it. It completely changed the quality of my life. Wing Tsun teaches you fighting principle abilities like Timing, Sensitivity, Discipline, Attention, Balance, etc…which are necessary skills not only for music but for life in general. I can say that I would never have started playing the saxophone if I hadn’t done martial arts.
Photo by Jiří Schwertner for EWTO
Have you ever been in a real fight?
Yes I have. I was approached by a random guy in a tram. He’d had some alcohol and a bad day I guess. He probably thought beating somebody would make him feel better. In the end his mood was worse and so was his nose.
How would you describe Prague?
Small but beautiful.
If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you see?
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
I have never thought about it before…but definitely Robert Downey Jr.
Nice choice! What is your favourite word?
Pyjamas in both Czech and English.
René is available for weddings and private parties and can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also check him out at these performances coming up…
23.5 Občanská plovárna (Praha) – XS Retro Párty
29.5 Cafe Bar Top (Kladno) – saxophone show
30.5 M1 Lounge (Praha, Masná ul) – club show
16.6 Fashion club Prague – Charitativní vystoupení pro pomoc pacientům s onkologickým onemocněním
27.6 Jazz Dock (Praha) – Brazilian latino night with Kleberson Oliveira band