Gustav Brom, (May 22, 1921 in Veľké Leváre - September 25, 1995) was a Czech big band leader, arranger, clarinetist and composer. He achieved fame in Europe and abroad from the 1940s right through to his death in 1995. He worked prolifically and was noted for remaining true to the jazz big band idiom, beginning with Dixieland and swing and later, with contributions from his musicians, moving into the West Coast jazz sound.
Born Gustav Frkal, his and the band's first professional engagement was in June 1940 in the Radhošť Hotel in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm. Shortly after World War II, Brom's band performed in Brno and Bratislava and also for several months in 1947 in Switzerland. The other top big band leaders in Prague at this time were Karel Vlach, Prof. Ladislav Habart, and Kamil Běhounek.
Brom triumphed in 1955 at the Leipzig Fair, in the former East Germany, winning accolades for his outstanding arrangements and the band for their wonderful playing and swinging feel. A typical Brom band lineup from this period was G. Brom, J.Hnilička, L.Hulan, S.Veselý, J.Kulíšek, J.Audes, O.Bláha, Z.Novák, A.Šmíd, B.Horák, J.Pelc, J.Bláha, M.Bártek, G.Brom ml., Karel Krautgartner, Milan Rezabek (bass) and J.Formánek.
The 1950s also saw Brom signed with Supraphon in Prague, recording and arranging prolifically with many guest artists including British singer Gery Scott, German pianist Igo Fischer, Czech singers Karel Gott, Helena Vondráčková and Hana and Petr Ulrych (aka Ulrychovi) and Greek sisters Tena and Martha Elefteriadu.
In the 1960s Brom's band was rated one of the top ten big-bands in the world by the American jazz polls. Maynard Ferguson, Dizzy Gillespie, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Ray Conniff, Ben Cramer, Bill Ramsey and others joined the Gustav Brom Big Band in many concerts and performances and the band's name became well known and respected among professional performers as well as the discerning public.
Brom was honoured in 1993 with the Luděk Hulan Jazz Award, presented yearly by the Czech Jazz Society, Prague.
With Brom's death in 1995, the band started a new phase under a slightly changed name, conducted by Vladimír Valovič from the Slovakian capital, Bratislava. Valovič was appointed by Brom himself as successor. New members have joined from the Czech cities of Prague, Brno, Olomouc and Ostrava, and also from Bratislava.
Since June 1940, Gustav Brom's big-band's name has appeared on over 570 music records, of both Czech and foreign origin, and the post-war recordings are becoming of interest to record collectors and music lovers worldwide.
In September 2006, Czech recording label Producentské centrum Františka Rychtaříka released the CD Gery Scott & Gustav Brom, a reissue of selections recorded by Supraphon in Prague in 1957.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license