Michael Kocab

Pražský výběr was a Czech band founded by composer, instrumentalist and singer Michael Kocáb and guitarist Michal Pavlíček. Kocáb studied at the Prague conservatory (studying organ with Jiří Ropek and composition with Ilja Hurník) and was already artistically active during his studies with Prague big band Milana Svobody and Jiří Stivín. In 1981 he got to know guitarist Michal Pavlíček. The band recorded the album 'Straka v hrsti' (A Magpie in the Hand) in 1982, but the record was forbidden to be released (it came out six years later). Being blacklisted by the communist regime Michal Pavlíček privately worked on various other projects. Among other things, he worked together with the singer, Zuzana Michnová, on a highly praised album called 'Rány' (Wounds). And he started the band Stromboli which featured the unusual vocals of Bára Basiková with poems by Christian Morgenstern set to music. In the meantime Pražský výběr became one of the symbols of the resistance to the totalitarian regime. Unlike the majority of other underground bands it not only sent out a very powerful message in the lyrics but also performed at a very high musical level keeping steadily at the head of modern fusion rock.

In 1987 Pražský Výběr made a long awaited comeback which was documented by its very successful second album, recorded after the comeback tour and paradoxically released before the first album. The shooting of a feature film on the band´s unusual history started in early 1989 - but the crazy movie called 'Pražákům, těm je tu hej' (The Pragers Are in Clover) was completed only after the Velvet Revolution. After resuming activities, the group then enjoyed their most celebrated years, selling out sports halls and recording new records. A joint recording with Michal Pavlíček followed (the album Cerne svetlo, or Black Light), as did a solo record 'Povídali, že mu hráli' (They said they played for him).

Michael Kocáb also played a significant part in the Velvet Revolution. His transformation from musician to politician began in the summer of 1989 at the Děčínská kotva music festival, when he said that: “Every nation has the government it deserves” in a live television broadcast. Afterward, he founded the Most (Bridge) initiative with lyricist Michal Horáček, and was involved in direct negotiations between representatives of the Communist Party and the Civic Forum in November 1989. Kocáb was subsequently a member of the federal Parliament for nearly two years. As chairman of a parliamentary committee, he primarily devoted himself to the removal of Soviet troops.After this was fully executed, he gave up his parliamentary mandate and organized a concert for the occasion. Pražský výběr played at this event, and were joined by Kocáb’s friend Frank Zappa. When Václav Havel became president, he brought Michael Kocáb to the castle with him as an unpaid external adviser. In the 1990's, Pražský výběr got back together several times. They recorded an album, played a few concerts and then went their separate ways again. To celebrate the anniversary in 2005  Czech television released a documentary film which tracks the bands history and makes use a of a wide range archive material. On the solo outings front, Michael Kocáb released the album 'Za kyslík' (For oxygen), which combines his New Wave roots with dance impulses. Michal Pavlícek produced an album for singer Monika Načeva entitled 'Možnosti tu sou' (There are possibilities) in 1995 where Pavlíček, Načeva and Tadun put to music the poems of the Czech underground writer Jáchym Topol. Since 1995 he has presented his own television show called 'Na Kloboučku' where prominent personalities of the Czech rock and jazz scene appear in live sessions. Next to that he is a regular guest singer on the albums by Hapka & Horáček since 1988. In 2003 he makes a brief return to music with a solo-album called 'Za Kyslík' (the Oxygen).