Saxophone Joe from Berlin
Josef “Joe” Kučera is a well-known jazz saxophonist and flutist. He was born on July 8, 1943 in Prague as Josef Kučera, his older sister is the well-known artist and graphic artist Alena Kučerová. His father, Vojtěch Kučera (1908-1965), emigrated in 1948, became an agent-pedestrian, was arrested in 1954 and sentenced to 25 years. In the 1960s, Josef Kučera played in Prague with Michal Prokop’s Framus Five or in the accompanying band of Karel Černoch. In September 1969, together with guitarist Sammy Vomáček, they decided to emigrate via Yugoslavia and Austria to West Germany. He settled in West Berlin in 1970, and from 1972 to 1976 Joe Kučera lived in Great Britain, London and Norwich. However, he returned to West Berlin, living there since 1976 to the present. After 1989, Joe Kučera began to return regularly to Prague, performing regularly in the Czech Republic as well as in Germany. He performs in the Czech Republic with musicians such as Lubomír Andršt and Michal Prokop, accompanied the singer Marta Kubišová, and collaborated with jazzman Martin Kratochvíl. He also brought his Berlin friends here, especially his most frequent teammate, the American guitarist Jesse Ballard. In Berlin, known as a saxophonist capable of playing with musicians of many genres, he got the nickname “The Sensational Saxophone Joe”. In 2010, Joe Kučera’s book Leben in Balance was published about him. He is also known as the founder of the jazz festival Jazzmeeting Berlin. He was also its artistic director and currently (2019) leads the Europe Blues Train festival.