This Prague (Czech Republic) band, named after the semi-legendary Welsh poet Taliesyn (though originally spelled Taliesin), was formed towards the end of the 90ties as an attempt to continue in the best tradition of the British folk scene of the 60ties and 70ties as well as Czech folkrock (Vlasta Redl, Druhá tráva). From the beginning, the greatest influence on Taliesyn’s music was the half-forgotten british group The Pentangle. Over the years Taliesyn shifted towards their own idiosyncratic folk-rock fusion combining elements from traditional and folk music, blues, jazz and rock.
Thanks to the outstanding musicianship of its members, Taliesyn can afford to perform each song with a different approach, arrangement and feel, be it a bluesy or jazzy type of folk, a British or Moravian traditional, rock, latin-jazz, or “simple” song-writing of the Paul Simon or Bob Dylan variety. Its members bring into Taleisyn’s music their own musical background and present inspirations: the singer and bouzouki player Jan Bicovsky draws on the song-writing of traditional and folk music and blues, the flute player Robert Fischmann combines the erudition of his conservatory education with his inclination towards jazz and experimentation with Near Eastern music, the guitarist Vojtech Jindra leans towards classical guitar, folk and Celtic music (they both play in a number of Czech Celtic music bands, such as Bran and their own project, Before Breakfast), Filip Benesovsky, on the bass guitar, is a well known personage on the Czech scene (organiser, among others, of the Czech vesrion of „Pink Floyd – The Wall“, he also collaborated with Roman Dragoun, Nerez, the famous Czech singer Marie Rottrova and many others) and performs equally well jazz music, rock and pop music, Jiri Neuzil on keyboards and piano is at the same time an outstanding musician and a teacher at the Jaroslav Jezek Conservatory, and the drummer, Radim Chrobok, who has gone all the way from heavy metal to folk, brings in the rock drive and rhythmic imagination Taliesyn’s complex arrangements require. But the result is not a hotch-potch of styles – the variety is right in the band’s musical genes and whatever comes out may be a hound-dog or a spaniel, but certainly not a centaur.
Apart from a number of traditional songs, most of Taliesyn’s material comes from its members. Though most songs were written by Jan Bicovsky, other members contribute either as authors (Vojtech Jindra wrote a couple of beautiful songs for both Taliesyn’s albums) or as arrangers (most arrangements come from Robert Fischmann who also contributed many instrumental passages and Filip Benesovsky arranged a few songs too). While some songs are written and arranged note by note, others are the result of improvisation and jamming, which also contributes to the band’s rather eclectic style. Taliesyn sings in English, though a number of songs inspired by Moravian folk are in Czech.
Two albums by Taliesyn are available – Southern Amnesia (2007), which got 4 stars out of five on Allmusic.com, and the very recent Zvesela! (Merrily!) (2010).
Jan Bičovský – lead vocals, bouzouki, harmonica
Vojtěch Jindra – acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin
Robert Fischmann – flute, low whistle, high whistle, backvocals, percussions
Filip Benešovský – bass guitar, backvocals
Jiří Neužil – keybords
Radim Chrobok – drums