The Kennedy Center

Karel Ruzicka


Saxophonist and composer Karel Ruzicka has developed a singular creative voice that arose from the many pivotal experiences of his life as a jazz artist. His first professional success came as his group “The Four” was awarded first prize at Karlovy Vary’s International Jazz Festival, in Ruzicka’s native Czech Republic (1992).

Two years later he paid a brief visit to New York City where he met the trumpet great Roy Hargrove and in 1996 he performed in Prague with Roy's Quintet. Ruzicka relocated to NYC in the spring of 1997 and his first album "You Know What I Mean" which he released a few months later was nominated for a Czech Grammy. His second album “Spring Rolls Quartet” (1999) was awarded Czech Jazz Recording of the Decade. During his New York tenure Ruzicka released his third album “Brooklyn Moods” with Bruce Barth on piano, George Mraz on bass and Brandon Lewis on drums, which was also nominated for a Czech Grammy and consequently he has teamed up with Ondre J Pivec (organ) and Russell Carter (drums) to form the CPR Electrio. Their debut album was released in 2013 and reveals a deeply creative exploration of groove-based modern jazz and was also nominated for the jazz album of the year.

During his visits of his hometown, Prague Karel often performed with his father, legendary pianist and composer Karel Ruzicka Sr. This father/son team recorded several albums in various settings from duet to big band. In 2016 he revived The Four and leads his trio and quartet consisting of fantastic musicians on both sides of the Atlantic.

Karel is a guest artist at the Jazz at Lincoln Center and when in town performs in the worship team at the Times Square Church. Karel also often tours with jazz singer/songwriter Michael Franks, guitarist Dean Brown and most recently bass virtuoso Miroslav Vitous.

During his career Ruzicka has also performed as a sideman with many other legendary musicians on the global scene George Benson, Hiram Bullock, Mike Stern, Joe Locke, Bob Mintzer, Ravi Coltrane, Arturo Sandoval, Benny Rietveld, Ben E. King, Ronnie Burrage, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Fred Wesley, Rachel Z, and this list is steadily growing...

Watch Past Performances

Video 12/17/2018: Karel Ruzicka

Saxophonist and composer Karel Ruzicka shares his creative voice that arose from the many pivotal experiences of his life as a jazz artist. 

Presented in collaboration with the Embassy of the Czech Republic.