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JAN VANEK, a technique at the crossroads of multiple universes.

Anyone who has experienced a concert by Jan Vanek has left with an experience full of humanity and intense emotion. We frequently talk about the spirituality of his music and his travels, but we neglect to mention his amazing guitar technique. Yet Jan Vanek is probably one of the greatest guitar virtuosos in the world. His unique technique carries the mix and cultural richness of his musical universe. It lies at the crossroads of multiple universes.


>Between gypsy jazz and flamenco, a «plectrum or pick» inspired finger’s play

When he first heard the famous album «A Friday Night in San Francisco» by Paco de Lucia, Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin, Jan Vanek believed that Al Di Meola was playing his supersonic scales with his fingers when his legendary speed was actually due to his highly developed and flexible pick technique. Seeking to imitate the famous American guitarist, and fed by the terrible fast scales of Paco de Lucia, Jan Vanek will succeed in developing a quite unique technique. He managed to produce a sound with the fingers of the right hand that was close to the frank attack of the pick, reaching unparalleled tempi without a plectrum. He developed a unique technique, influenced by the 'picado' flamenco, that Jan displays with three fingers (annular/ middle/ index) instead of the usual two fingers (middle/ index) used by all flamenco guitarists. The thumb of the right hand remains very stable and always placed either on the bass string or on the top. By utilizing the precision of his right hand, the great flexibility of his left hand, and the complete relaxation of his body in perfect communion with the instrument, he can achieve the virtuosity of his scales. Even with a classical guitar with nylon strings.

Jan Vanek's right hand rest stroke and its straight attack enables him to achieve the distinctive sound of gypsy jazz guitar.

Exemple :

Thus, in the same piece, Jan Vanek can alternate round sound and arpeggios typical of the classical guitar, sequences of complex chords from jazz, and fast scales close to the world of flamenco or gypsy guitar.


> Rhythm and percussion

In many of his works, Jan Vanek manages to rise in intensity in an exceptional way, sometimes reaching a sensation close to a trance-like state. To accomplish this, he relies on a rhythmic play that installs a basic cell and varies with melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic improvisation. It is not surprising to know that Jan Vanek also plays drums.

To enhance the rhythmic dimension on the guitar, Jan Vanek uses flamenco techniques, which include using all the 'abanico' type of rolls which enable continuous ‘rasgueados’. He blends it with the rhythmic patterns that are characteristic of gypsy jazz guitar. Jan Vanek has the unique skill to employ the rasgueado 'abanico' technique on the top or back of the guitar for extended periods, creating a booming drum sound. Techniques that he invented are exclusive to him, as for example, when he produces ‘rasgueados’ on the muffled strings while prolonging the movement on the guitar’s top.

Exemple :

He demonstrates unparalleled inventiveness in using the sound resources of the guitar, especially through friction of all kinds, with the palm of the hand on the strings or on the back of the guitar, «flickers» with the nails on the sides, muffled strings… He does not hesitate to use the guitar as percussion by turning it on his knees or holding it between his legs to play drums on. In this sense, he is one of the pioneers of the so-called 'percussive' guitar that has nourished the world of acoustic guitar in recent years (Andy Mc Kee…) and even that of the classical guitar (Arthur Kampela…).


>Singular postures

Jan Vanek adopted the cross-legged posture that was popularized by Paco de Lucia. When dealing with polyphonic themes specific to classical guitar technique, he sometimes adopts an atypical posture with the guitar stuck between his legs and the neck upwards which remind us to Paul Galbraith's cello and technique.

Jan Vanek also likes to deploy his rhythmic playing with the guitar lying flat on his knees. In this case, it also plays with the harmonics of the instrument.


>The influence of other plucked string instruments from all over the globe

As a multi-instrumentalist, Jan Vanek, is deeply passionate about plucked instruments from all over the globe. This passion led him to create instruments from his own imagination, following the lineage of harp guitars that had developed in the nineteenth century.

His own guitar playing in concerts often involves developing techniques that are specific to Asian instruments, such as the Koto, specifically through natural or artificial harmonics or pizzicati. Occasionally, he uses very precise tuning to create new resonances. Thus, he can expand his repertoire.

Like his personality, Jan Vanek’s playing technique is unique and singular. Despite being at the intersection of multiple worlds, it brings us closer to ‘the universal’.



David Demange, January 2023

Guitarist and Director of “LA RODIA” France


"Self-taught guitarist of great talent, composer-interpreter, multi-instrumentalist, Jan V. Vanek is a true globetrotter jazzman.

He is a born musician, a virtuoso in service of musical expression. Wherever he travels, he observes, listens and brings new sounds.


Jan V. Vanek is not quite unknown.  This discrete personality that says "that fame did not interest to him at all» (which, we must confess, is not very common among artists ...) leaves a very vivid memory in the minds of those who were able to see and hear him, here and there.

Each time, beyond the appearances of flamboyant virtuosity and the very communicative rage to play, we have the feeling of being in the presence of an inhabited artist who has many more things to say.

It‘s intuition to deal with a precious and rare musician.

Hardliner researcher for many years, Jan has continued to travel the world looking for communion with nature and with the elements, permanent and perennial source of musical and spiritual inspiration.

Sparking a general enthusiasm to every concert, it is often appreciated for its varied repertoire that he knew how to expand over the years. Franco-Czech musician, he releases a lot of energy and charisma. He found himself. ... "


Didier LEVALLET bassist former Director of ONJ and the National Theatre of Montbeliard France



"A concert with Jan V. Vanek, of course, is a work of art but is also a humanist journey, a discovery, the meeting with a whole being including in his kindness and listening to others, it’s indeed a rare and special time where everyone wanted to return, whatever be musician or music lover, novice or regular to concert halls, everyone find a pleasure, his own pleasure.

It is rare to see so many dazzled eyes, endless smiles, and trouble to say what we just experienced at the output of each Jan V. Vanek’s concert...


So, at the end of season and as a kind of apotheosis, Jan Vanek proposes us a concert with the “CIEL ORCHESTRA in the ROTONDA’s THEATRE. Ensemble of musicians livens up by the same passion even by the same madness, by the same commitment or even by the same liturgical act.

And what had been given to us to see and mostly to hear that night was precious, rare, divine, bringing us to ecstasy  and it addressed in its diversity to our whole body and especially to all our being,  to all that is  the most essential in us.

A concert by Jan V. Vanek and “LE CIEL ORCHESTRA" is far beyond a concert, beyond a musical moment even a magic one: it is what the culture must be when it’s often a consumption product, talented but quickly forgotten. Jan’s music affects us and goes far beyond of the listening moment, it touches the divine ...»


Jacky Castang Director Vosges Scenes France


Guitarist and self-taught multi-instrumentalist (saxophones, flutes, drums, piano, Chinese harp, koto, percussion, esraj ...) make himself some instruments.

He feeds his music with all kinds of inspirations: Indian rhythmic, continuous breath, guitar techniques invented ... but especially intense listening to the world, to the nature (mines, caves ...) and his own the inner world.


Between roads and concerts, he immersed himself in world music that he includes into Jazz. He traveled and gave concerts among others in Japan, Canada, China, French Polynesia, Easter Island, India, Indonesia, Scandinavia, Hungary, Serbia, Spain, Portugal, Italy, England, USA, New Zealand, French West Indies, Egypt, Island and recently  Thailand, Cambodge, Malaysia …  


Besides the whole "CIEL ORCHESTRA" and his duo, trio, quartet under his name ... he plays in different union groups: from swing to free jazz, from fusion music off the beaten tracks to Piazzolla tango, from classical and contemporary music to his own version of Gypsy  jazz...


If you see someone playing the saxophone close to a waterfall, playing flute on the top of a tree, playing the guitar in the middle of a peat bog or trying to tighten strings on an old hollow tree to make a harp: it's him. "


Françoise BARRET storyteller


Jan outside the queen Hatshepsut's temple in Egypt (Queens Valley) 

Jan playing 25 strings guitar ...

Instrument designed in cooperation with

Thierry Carel 

In concert at La Rotonde Theater..

Photo VINCENT Olivier

Photo PRENEZ Denis

Contemplatiing the huge Mapes "Inocarpus Fagiter" inside Tahiti peninsula's jungle 


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