Ladislav Déczi

* 1938  

  • „That Ada there, a university professor and inventor and all, he is a scientist. My old friend, he invited us, so we played at the university. And this old lady came, she was Czech but she spoke broken Czech, she was a professor there and said: ‚You lived through communism, come to the lecture hall, there will be about 200 children, tell them about communism, what it was like.‘ So I went there, looked around and saw these girls, with whom I could tell the kind of family they are from, what they act like. I had a hunch and I was right. I picked one: ‚Come here and I’ll give you questions.‘ So she came up to me and I started. ‚So what does your dad do?‘ That he has a smaller company, about 20 employees. ‚Do you have a house?‘ – ‚Of course.‘ – ‚You have a car?‘ – ‚I do, my sister has one, everyone.‘ So I began: ‚Now look, you know what will happen when communism comes? The first thing when the bolshevik comes, he will put barbed wire around all of Nebraska and put landmines behind the wire. So when you step on it, it will rip your body apart and your intestines will spill out.‘ This is what I said: ‚Your guts coming out. Completely destroy your body. They were surprised. And then I said: ‚And they will lock up your dad because he is a capitalist, he’ll go to jail. They will take your house and expel you from the university. You know. That’s how it will be. And you will be lucky not to have your dad executed. Maybe they’ll even execute him.‘ And they thought I was telling them fairytales from some Hollywood movie. Really. Then I told them not to confuse this with Hollywood. There you have Schwarzenegger playing a KGB agent who befriends an American secret agent like it’s the camaraderie. That’s fairytales. This isn’t. And she kept saying: , You must be kidding. That must not be possible.‘ You know what I told her in the end? ‚I made it up, it was a fairytale.‘ Because it’s pointless to explain it to them. They cannot comprehend it. And I’m not pissed about it. They don’t have to care about this shit. They’d have to care about Hitler and Stalin and Napoleon just as well. Fuck that. This new generation is going straight, and I don’t blame them. I’m just pissed at them about the phones. They always stare and never call. Somebody slipped on a banana peel in Romania, now laugh.“

  • „We played downstairs in Reduta, that was on Narodni trida. That was our home turf, almost. There was a café upstairs, I don’t remember its name. There we would sit, after the gig, we would sit and drink. All of a sudden Landovsky came upstairs and said: “Russians are here Russians!” And we thought he was joking, cause he was always funny. Then we went outside and there were tanks on the street. I remember that exactly“ – „What did it feel like?“ – „I had no idea what it was. We were just observing in the beginning.“ – „And the following days?“ – „WE started to have an idea of what was happening. And in the end, came the tanks. We arrived at the radio and the tanks were everywhere. They had barrels in the back, for spare oil. And some boys, I don’t know who, there were five or eight of us, and we came close to the tank and somebody gave me a chisel and another had a chisel and come on - let’s make a whole. So we made a hole in one of the barrels, a little one, and we plugged it with newspaper and set it on fire. Now we waited for it to explode, but it... it just caught on fire. And as the oil spilt more and more, the barrel shattered, it didn’t explode, it just splattered. And the whole tank began to burn. The Russians jumped out. Now there was ammunition, and those were gradually exploding, always after 5 minutes, 2 minutes. And it was everywhere, like freckles on the building, damaged paint. I remember that exactly like this.“

  • „So I don’t know, anytime some mum comes along with a kid, ten or eleven-year-old, that he plays the trumpet, I always say two things. What Clifford Brown said when they asked him why he plays so well. He said: ‘I don’t play like a genius. I just follow two things: rhythm and harmony.’ He simplified it and basically that’s what it is. Not that there is much of something else. I always say to the kids: ‘Look, always practice with a metronome to not mess up your rhythm. When you practice by yourself you cheat and then It becomes fixed, then you play out of your ass, it jumps around.’ That’s what I always tell them.”, “But it’s difficult to play along with a metronome.” – “That’s what the big beat players say, they have problems with that.” – “No, no, children have problems with that.” – “They say, no, no, no, we play without a metronome, it’s more lively, you’re running outside of the track, you’d be disqualified. Vaico used to say this good thing, these top players Hedderly, Clifford Brown, Coltrane, they play so exactly in the pocket, do you know why? They can’t play any other way. And there’s something to that.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 04.12.2019

    (audio)
    duration: 02:32:18
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

To escape at any cost

Laco Déczi in New York (end of the 20th century)
Laco Déczi in New York (end of the 20th century)
photo: Facebookový profil pamětníka

Ladislav „Laco“ Déczi was born on March 29, 1938, in Bernolákovo in the south of Slovakia. He grew up in Bratislava, where he graduated technical high school. He started learning the trumpet at the age of 10. After basic military training, he joined the Dance Orchestra of the Czechoslovak Radio in 1962, where he spent 22 years. He played in other jazz groups, for example, Karel Velebny‘s S+HQ. In 1967 he formed his own band Celula. In 1965 he got married, his wife Milena gave birth to their son Ladislav. In 1983 he played at a jazz festival in Havana. Here he spoke about the political situation in Czechoslovakia with the American Journalist Lucy Komisar at a party. The StB found out about this and started blackmailing Ladislav in an attempt to get him to collaborate. At the same time, his passport was taken away and he could not play abroad. In 1985 he agreed to a collaboration with the secret police and his passport was returned. Shortly thereafter, he emigrated with his whole family to the United States via Germany. Here he formed the band Celula New York and made a living by playing the trumpet one again. Since 1990, he regularly plays in the Czech Republic. From 2019, Ladislav Deczi lives in New York with his second wife Katerina.