menu html by



Jarda Švec was one of the first people I met when I arrived in Prague almost thirty years ago. He was at U Vystřelenýho oka the first time I played there with Tichá Dohoda in the summer of 1994. He was there the last time Southern Cross played on 18.12.2021 – which happened to be my 69th birthday. Between those two dates he became my close friend and also played saxophone with Southern Cross in 1996/97. For the past 20 years, he has played on our song “Damage” every time we had a concert at U Vystřelenýho oka – even to the point where his participation became an expected event, a kind of tradition. And people loved him for it, they enjoyed his extrovert and unpredictable performances. In fact, it was the climax of the gig, the point at which people stood on benches and tables, danced, shouted and sang along.

He played on “THE BELL RINGER – LIVE AT THE SHOT-OUT EYE”, the live CD we released in 2015. He was famous for his contribution to the Dadaistic band ŽENY, a classic fusion of free jazz and Czech underground music, with lyrics influenced by parody and the “nonsense” poetry of Christian Morgenstern. Most of all, though, Jarda was famous for being himself. It was amazing how many people knew and loved him. You could play a gig in Ostrava, for example, and a complete stranger you’d never met before would come up and tell you a Jarda Švec story. Everywhere he was known as “Jarda Švec, umělec”, and in the widest sense of the word he was an artist – if that means someone with a unique point of view, who successfully transmits that feeling and worldview to other people. Someone who can make you look at things differently, whether through art, music, literature or story-telling. His yarns were brilliant, with a kind of wisdom and sly humour that made sure you never forgot them. Maybe he wasn’t a genius on sax – though actually he sometimes was – but his humour, his enthusiasm and his life-embracing vibe more than made up for any shortcomings. He was the genius loci of U Vystřelenýho oka, the permanent štamgast, the guy who would always show up at some point in the evening. The type of guy you could depend on as a friend, the type of guy who could put things in perspective whenever you were feeling down. Some kind of guru, some kind of shaman, a beer-loving zen buddhist stoner. So when I learned in the early hours of this morning that he had died after a short illness, I was shocked, saddened and in a state of disbelief – devastated would be a better word for it. I know that his many hundreds of friends – both in Prague and across the country – must be feeling the same way. The impression he made on us all is profound, and his passing has left an empty space in our lives and in our hearts. U Vystřelenýho oka won’t be the same without him – though it will still  to be a magical place. But no more Jarda going from table to table, sharing joints and holding forth, entertaining friends and strangers alike with his outrageous jokes and stories. No more taking his beloved sax from its case, no more flights of sonic improvisation on “Damage”. How can it possibly be? But truly, that was his last performance with us in December 2021, and my heart weeps and I can’t accept it. Thank you, Jarda, for your friendship, good humour, originality and humanity. I count myself lucky that I was privileged enough to know you and count you as my friend. I know that Pavel Krtouš, Jarda Kvasnička and David Babka feel the same way. Goodnight, dear friend, we’ll meet sometime for a beer and a joint at that great U Vystřelenýho oka in the sky.

R.I.P. Jarda Švec, umělec, First Minister of the Republic of Žižkov. Died 26.2.2022