Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bela Szakcsi Lakatos Trio - Na Dara!

Béla Szakcsi Lakatos - piano
György Orbán - double bass
András Peczek Lakatos - drums

Mónika Rostás - vocal
Csaba Rostás - vocal

01. Red caravan [08:09]
02. 8th district [10:23]
03. Peace of the stars [06:11]
04. Little gipsy song for you [09:01]
05. Gipsy groove [01:57]
06. Bell of my soul - tribute to Péter Eötvös [11:43]
07. Django [03:46]

Recorded at Aquarium Studio, Budapest on December 2003


"I believe that what we have on this album is world music in the truest sense of the word. To my mind, world music is not when a Cuban musician or a Gypsy plays the tunes of his own people but when various musical cultures and styles merge into one. Here you have the Hungarian and Gypsy elements fusing with the strains of Oriental music, occasionally straying into the blues while phrases crop up even from Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and there is the undeniable influence of twenty-first-century contemporary music. But all through this pulses the underlying current of jazz."
Béla Szakcsi Lakatos


"Pianist Béla Szakcsi Lakatos has a lengthy history that includes playing classical music and jazz standards as well as being the first in Hungary to explore fusion. As a member of Special EFX, he toured the world and appeared on many recordings. He has also worked extensively at exploring his Hungarian heritage and turning gypsy-flavored melodies into jazz. Although one can hear a bit of Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett in his playing, much of the time Lakatos plays the piano like the folk instrument the cimbalom, a bit out of time yet swinging in its own fashion. Lakatos' originals are full of rich melodies, and the lengthier pieces on Na Dara!, particularly "8th District," are episodic, unpredictable, and intriguing. The occasional wordless vocals of Csaba Rostás and particularly his wife, Mónika Rostás, are haunting and authentic, giving this music an even stronger flavor of Eastern Hungarian music. Lakatos wraps up this continually interesting set with a stately reading of John Lewis' "Django." Recommended!" by Scott Yanow

Szakcsi Lakatos Trio [is] led by Rom pianist Lakatos with Gyorgy Orbán (bass), András Peczek Lakatos (drums), plus a pair of superb vocalists, Mónika and Csaba Rostás. Not Django, but an utterly contemporary, cosmopolitan sort of gypsy jazz. At the keyboard, Lakatos hard bops with the very best; the ideas come fast and furious, he plays with a riveting precision, and the groove he carves out carries the entire project forward with overwhelming energy (Randy Weston and Rodney Kendrick come to mind). He's literally all over the piano, reaching deep inside the box to pluck and stroke the strings like a grand cimbalom, as the bass dances and the cymbals shimmer, easing into a down-and-dirty strut to wake the dead (hear "Eighth District"), or loping up and down the track with a percussive joy that defies time itself ("Gipsy Groove"), while the John Lewis ballad "Django" closes out with what an affecting interpretation that calls down the spirit of Bill Evans. Lakatos (winner of the Lizst Prize and Hungarian Artist of Merit Award) has talent to burn, and he deserves a far wider hearing. - Michael Stone, RootsWorld

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Asian American Jazz Orchestra - Big Bands Behind Barbed Wire

Anthony Brown: drumset w/timbales and pedal tom, shime daiko [7]; Mark Izu: bass, sheng (mouth organ) [7]; Jon Jang: piano; Qi Chao Liu: sheng [7], suona reed trumpet [1, 10], dizi (bamboo flute) [4, 6, 8, 9, 10]; Hafez Modirzadeh: soprano and tenor saxophones [2, 6], ney (end-blown flute) [4, 8]; Wayne Wallace: trombone; Francis Wong: tenor saxophone [2, 5], flute [1, 6-10]; clarinet [5]; John Worley: trumpet.

PJ Hirabayashi: taiko, percussion, waterphone [8]; Michelle Fujii: taiko, percussion, shekere [10]; Yumi Ishihara: taiko, percussion, cowbell [6], clave and palito [10]; Crissy Sato: taiko, percussion, triangle and cowbell [10].
and special guests BRENDA WONG AOKI and GEORGE YOSHIDA

01. Executive Order 9066 [03:12]
02. Camp Life, Tuxedo Junction, Polka Dots and Moonbeams [04:38]
03. Jerome Camp, Buddhahead Blues [04:41]
04. The Photograph [02:58]
05. The Last Dance, In a Sentimental Mood [03:00]
06. Kiryoku [07:32]
07. Ichikotsu-cho [02:59]
08. Prelude (Truth be Told) [04:54]
09. Intro to Rhymes [01:22]
10. Rhymes (For Children) [08:58]
11. Redress/Blues [05:29]
12. Reparations Now! [04:09]
13. Ikiru [06:50]

Recorded at San Jose Repertory Theater, San Jose, California on August 18, 1998
Asian Improv Records AIR 0045


Anthony Brown’s Liner Notes to “Big Bands Behind Barbed Wire”

In 1997, the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund (CLPEF) awarded federal grants to individuals, organizations, and projects to promote public education about the Japanese American internment experience. “Big Bands Behind Barbed Wire” was a national multimedia multidisciplinary consortium project funded by the CLPEF to create dialogue and increase public awareness about the internment experience through the vehicle of jazz. Concert programs of the Asian American Jazz Orchestra with members of San Jose Taiko and guest artists performing original works inspired by the internment experience, symposia involving former internees, musicians, and members of local communities, a traveling photo exhibit “Reminiscing in Swingtime,” of how jazz was part of life in internment camps were major components of the project.

This recording consists of excerpts from extended compositions performed in concert as “Big Bands Behind Barbed Wire.” Following a weekend of concerts at the San Jose Repertory Theater, the full program was recorded in its entirety. The selections included on the CD are first or second takes with no overdubs and reflect essentially what the Orchestra sounds like in performance.

E.O. 9066 is a collaborative commissioned work by Anthony Brown with San Jose Taiko, commemorating the courageous spirit of those unjustly imprisoned during World War II. The introductory Executive Order 9066 is an adaptation of a Chinese melody entitled, “The General’s Order,” co-arranged by Anthony Brown and Qi Chao Liu. The music heralds the abrupt upheaval and forced incarceration of over 120,000 people precipitated by Executive Order (E.O.) 9066. Qi is featured on suona, the Chinese reed trumpet, even playing two together (2:04-2:14)!

LAST DANCE is the collaborative multimedia work by Mark Izu and George Yoshida commissioned by the “Big Bands Behind Barbed Wire” project. George played alto saxophone in the Music Makers of Poston Camp, Arizona in 1943 (front, center in the cover photograph), although he later chose drums as his instrument. He tells the story of the camps from his heart and soul; you can hear his seasoned timing in his adroit phrasing and delivery. George’s musicality prompted recording him as another instrument rather than how a singer typically would be. Adaptations of the original big band arrangements of Tuxedo Junction, Polka Dots and Moonbeams, and In a Sentimental Mood are by Wayne Wallace. Consummate performance artist Brenda Wong Aoki contributes haunting reminders in song and poetry of the nightmare World War II was for Japanese Americans. As Mark said, “Kiryoku represents the vital, ever-changing Japanese American community, the spirit of ‘keeping on,’ moving forward, creating, and celebrating.”

E.O. 9066 continues with Ichikotsu-cho, an arrangement of an 11th-century Gagaku composition (ceremonial court music), dedicated to the Issei, the first generation of Japanese in America. It features Qi and then Mark Izu on shengs, Chinese mouth organs, before other winds join in a free round. The Prelude (Truth be Told) creates an ambiance of timelessness, transporting the listener through the musical themes of the suite. Rhymes (For Children) commemorates the injustices suffered by Japanese Latin Americans, and celebrates hope for a future that will not see the imprisonment of children.

Jon Jang composed REPARATIONS NOW! inspired by the historic Day of Remembrance celebration in San Jose in February 1987 and his experiences in the Asian communities. In his liner notes for Never Give Up! (Asian Improv Records, 1989), Jon wrote, “In this music, we are trying to express the pride and sentiments of Asian peoples’ struggles in America for equality and justice.” The excerpts include Redress/Blues (for Akira “Jackson” Kato), Reparations Now! (for the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations, Nihonmachi Outreach Committee, Black Congressional Caucus, and 40 acres and a mule for African Americans), and Ikiru (inspired by Akira Kurasawa’s 1952 film). Taiko composed and arranged by Jose Alarcon and PJ and Roy Hirabayashi.

Day of Remembrance

“In the camps, we identified ourselves as Americans through our music.”
— George Yoshida, jazz musician, former internee and author of “Reminiscing
in Swingtime”

“Music helped us keep our sanity, it gave us hope.”
— “Sox” Kitashima, former internee, spokesperson, National Coalition for Redress
and Reparations

On February 19th, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the forced removal and incarceration of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry. Two-thirds were American citizens; the rest were aliens ineligible for citizenship due to discriminatory naturalization laws. Under the guise of “military necessity,” persons of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast — including infants, the elderly and the frail — were taken to internment camps located in the most desolate areas of the Western states.

They were never charged with any crime; there was no due process; massive violations of Constitutional rights occurred; incalculable personal suffering and loss was sustained. In 1981 the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, a federal commission, determined that the internment was not justified by “military necessity” and the broad historical causes which gave rise to the internment were “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.”

Since 1978, Japanese American communities across the nation have observed this historic date as a Day of Remembrance through a variety of ceremonies, educational and cultural programs. This year (1998) marks the tenth anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided an official governmental apology, individual redress to surviving internees, and a public education fund.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Getatchew Mekuria & The Ex & Guests - Moa Anbessa

Getatchew Mekuria - tenor saxophone;
The Ex:
Katherina Bornefeld - drums;
Terrie Hessels - guitar;
Andy Moor - guitar;
GW Sok - vocals;

Colin McLean - bass;
Xavier Charles - clarinet;
Brodie West - alto saxophone;
Joost Buis - trombone;
Cor Fuhler - organ (# 6,9,10);


01. Ethiopia Hagere [06:30]
02. Sethed Seketelat [04:31]
03. Eywat Setenafegagn [05:04]
04. Che Belew Shellela [04:50]
05. Aynamaye Nesh [05:55]
06. Aynoche Terabu / Shemonmwanaye [08:15]
07. Musicawi Silt [04:22.54]
08. Tezeta [04:16]
09. Almaz Yeharerwa [05:35]
10. Tezalegn Yetentu [06:02]
11. Aha Begena [06:30]

Recorded April 03-04 2006.
Tracks 3,5,6,8,11 recorded live on April 08 2006.
Terp Records

‘‘A killer combination of sounds - the searing tenor sax of Getatchew Mekuria and the raspy guitars of The Ex brought together here in really unique cross-cultural formation! Mekuria's influence really transforms the sound of The Ex, bringing their anarchic spirit into a strongly Ethiopian mode, one that's further underscored by some great guest horn work on clarinet, alto, and trombone used like the kind of horn sections you'd find on Ethiopian recordings from the 70s, which lets Mekuria really do his thing by soloing over the tunes with a great deal of feeling.’’
Dusty Groove America.

Getatchew Mekuria is the most revered veteran of the Ethiopian saxophone. A real giant, both physically and musically. In his seventies, he is still in full voice, with his own, powerfully distinctive style of playing. His huge vibrato, both forceful and fragile, plays around the vocal lines, using typical Ethiopian embellishments. He started playing in 1947 in the Addis Abeba Municipal Band, then in the Haile Selassie 1 Theatre Orchestra and the Police Orchestra. He also backed up all the famous Ethiopian singers. Getatchew Mekuria is the inventor of a musical style called the ‘Shellele’, which originates from an heroic war-chant, translated to the saxophone. When he plays it, he dons a lion’s mane and cuts loose with furious solos that are a kind of free jazz, from before free jazz existed.

The Ex, from Holland, often descibed as an avant-ethno-improv-punk band, toured Ethiopia twice and fell in love with its music. The Ex had their 25th year anniversary party in November 2004 and they invited Getatchew to perform there with the ICP, the Instant Composers Pool, for many decades Holland’s most amazing free-improvising jazz group.

It was his first time traveling outside of Ethiopia but he accepted the ICP as if they were his own band, donned his lion’s mane, the ‘gofere’, and blasted everyone off stage. On the 25-year-Ex-convoy-tour around France, he played with The Ex.

He was so inspired that he suggested to The Ex he should record his next CD with them. He gave them 10 solo saxophone versions of Ethiopian tunes, which they arranged and practiced. Then in April 2006 Getatchew traveled to the Netherlands for some concerts and recording sessions.

The result is unique; Getatchew’s melodies and solos mesh with The Ex’s rhythms, noise and vocals, supported by a guest impro-horn section.

There were some 80 concerts on many Jazz-, Worldmusic- and Rock-festivals and a presentation of the CD in Addis Abeba, where the record also was released on cassette. First pressing 10.000!
#7.Musicawi Silt
The Ex and Getatchew Mekuria at Damrosch Park, NYC, August 20th 2008

#2.Sethed Seketelat

Concert au Point Ephémère à Paris le 12 novembre 2008

#11.Aha Begena live

Rondellus - Sabbatum (A Medieval Tribute To Black Sabbath)

Veikko Kiiver - organistrum and vocals
Miriam Andersén - Gothic Harp on #7: Magus (The Wizard) and #2: Oculi filioli (Junior's Eyes)
Maria Staak - hurdy-gurdy on #2: Oculi filioli (Junior's Eyes) and organistrum on #4: Symptoma mundi (Symptom of the Universe)
Robert Staak - lute on #12: Architectus urbis caelestis (Spiral Architect) and #10: Planetarum vagatio (Planet Caravan)
Cätlin Jaago - the bagpipe on #11: Via gravis (A Hard Road)
Tuule Kann - psaltery on #10: Planetarum vagatio (Planet Caravan
Marju Riisikamp - positive organ on #8 Solitudo (Solitude)
Tõnu Jõesaar - fiddle on #7: Magus (The Wizard), #5: Post murum somnii (Behind the Wall of Sleep), #2: Oculi filioli (Junior's Eyes) and #3: Funambulus domesticus (A National Acrobat)
Robert Staak - frame drum on #1: Verres militares (War Pigs), #9: Rotae confusionis (Wheels of Confusion), #5: Post murum somnii (Behind the Wall of Sleep), #2: Oculi filioli (Junior's Eyes), #3: Funambulus domesticus (A National Acrobat) and #11: Via gravis (A Hard Road)


01. Verres militares (War Pigs) [03:27]
02. Oculi Filioli (Junior's Eyes) [05:33]
03. Funambulus domesticus (A National Acrobat) [06:13]
04. Symptoma Mundi (Symptom of the Universe) [04:44]
05. Post murum somnii (Behind the Wall of Sleep) [05:00]
06. Post aeternitatem (After Forever) [03:42]
07. Magus (The Wizard) [03:51]
08. Solitudo (Solitude) [03:50]
09. Rotae confusionis (Wheels of Confusion) [03:05]
10. Planetarum vagatio (Planet Caravan) [03:57]
11. Via gravis (A Hard Road) [05:20]
12. Architectus urbis caelestis (Spiral Architect) [04:52]

Recorded at the Tallin Merchant Guild (2002)
Beg the Bug Records (2002)
Monsters of rock Records(2003)


“Sabbatum” is a tribute album like no other – 12 Black Sabbath classic songs played by early music band Rondellus and sung in Latin language.
Can You imagine what Black Sabbath would have sounded like if Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward would have formed the band in the 14th century? Would “War Pigs” or “The Wizard” have been as powerful if played on medieval instruments like lute, fiddle and harp?

Rondellus are a gathering of 3-5 musicians who hail from Estonia and play music based in the 14th century using only instruments and vocal techniques from that time. Maria Staak is the brains behind this project and did all of the arrangements. So what exactly is this???? Well, this is Black Sabbath songs sung in Latin and played with only ancient instruments. Pretty strange you say? well it is, but is it good? YES........ If you like Black Sabbath then you must hear this. Put this on late at night and just relax and imagine.. Most of the songs you will recognize right away like War Pigs, Solitude, Planet Caravan, as the arrangements are nearly the same as the original. War pigs starts off the CD and is basically all vocals and a drum. Very eerie and cool.. Some songs have a hurdy gurdy, gothic harp, organsitrum, fiddle, and bells. Some of the other songs played are After Forever, Behind the Walls of Sleep, the Wizard, A hard Road, Juniors Eyes, Symptom of the Universe and A Spiral Architect. I think it is pretty amazing stuff and a great project. Congratulations on a success.
Reviewed by Scott Heller (from Aural Innovations #19 (April 2002)


The story of Sabbatum
Interview with producer Mihkel Raud.

How did You meet Rondellus?

When I first came to the idea of recording Black Sabbath songs as if they were written and performed during the middle ages, I started to ask around in order to find an early music band that would turn my "crazy idea" into reality. One name kept coming up - Rondellus. So I approached them and explained what I had in mind. It didn't take much time at all to convince them. They are the most open-minded people I have met during my entire life. More open-minded than the majority of rock musicians I have seen. I've been blessed by having the opportunity to work with Rondellus. They are very creative and talented.

How did You come to the idea of recording a "medieval" Black Sabbath album?

I guess for me the whole Sabbatum thing started a very long time ago. I've been a dedicated Black Sabbath maniac for as long as I can remember. My older brother used to listen to them a lot in the seventies. I was a child back then but I can definitely remember I was caught by Sabbath immediately.

I formed my very own Black Sabbath tribute band at the age of 13. I used to sing and play the guitar at the same time. I was kind of Ozzy and Tony Iommi in one person. So in a way "Sabbatum" is an extension of something I started in my early teens. However, this time around I decided to explore a totally different angle in Black Sabbath music.

Which is?

Well, people tend to believe that the main foundation for Black Sabbath were the riffs. Even though I can agree with that to a great extent, I still think it's not 100 % so. Obviously, no-one could imagine Sabbath without Tony Iommi and his killer riffs. And fantastic solos of course. Still, there is so much more in Black Sabbath.

"Sabbatum" is a Black Sabbath cover album that isn't built around riffs only. We have used some of them ( "A National Acrobat" and " Behind the Wall of Sleep" for example) but basically we were focused on melodies and lyrics. And with medieval instruments and arrangements we tried to re-create them in a totally different enviroment. A few tracks on "Sabbatum" are really minimalistic - just a'capella singing and medieval percussion. Others are with full instrumentation.

Why medieval music?

Normally bands would cover classic rock songs in order to make them sound modern, to give them something they belive wasn't possible to achive back when the originals were recorded. We were determined to have it the other way round. We were kind of playing with the idea that our versions were the originals, some unknown songs from the middle-ages that Black Sabbath found and recorded centuries later.

The other goal was to explore connections between rock and early music. In fact they are not as different as many would expect. By taking these Black Sabbath songs back in time we wanted to prove that the word "power" is very often misunderstood. It's not always a massive wall of sound that makes music powerful. There can be a lot of energy in just one person singing.

All songs are sung in Latin on "Sabbatum". Why?

Medieval music sounds more authentic in Latin. I guess this is one of the main stereotypes of early music but we didn't see any substantial reason to have it any other way. Our goal was to keep the whole thing as true to the early music principles as possible

How did You choose songs for "Sabbatum"?

I had my own "wish list" and Rondellus had theirs. By combining the two of them we came to a collection of songs that in my opinion represents Black Sabbath at their very best. Unfortunately, there are so many great songs we just couldn't do this time. Some of them didn't work with medieval arrangements and some had lyrics which might have been misunderstood.

I was sure of not having "Paranoid" or "Iron Man" on the album. Both of them are brilliant but it's so predictable to have these titles on a Black Sabbath tribute album. We wanted to include some of these "under-rated" songs as well. I'm not sure if I have heard a cover of "Junior's Eyes" before. I have now and to my biggest surprise it turned out to be one of the key songs on "Sabbatum".

You mentioned lyrical content as the reason for not covering some of the Black Sabbath songs. Could You be more specific?

Well, I would be lying if I said that the issue of widely misunderstood image of Black Sabbath didn't come up. Most of the musicians involved in "Sabbatum" are religious. Unfortunaltely, the misconstruction of Black Sabbath being the founders of "dark" and "satanic" rock music is massive. I have no idea where it came from. Just look at the lyrics - there is nothing whatsoever "satanic" in them. Sabbath used black magic only as a reference, their darker lyrics were in fact warnings against Satanism.

Like I said, Rondellus is a group of very open-minded people and they didn't have a problem with Black Sabbath lyrics or music. Still I felt that asking them to sing "my name is Lucifer, please take my hand" would have been too much. Regardless of what the true meaning of these lines was.

I'm convinced that "Sabbatum" is an album of love and faith. It has been a privilege to be a part of such a project. Working on my all time favourite songs was a dream come true. Rondellus is by far the most intelligent and talented band I've ever had the pleasure to work with.


Monday, January 31, 2011

George Mraz - Morava

George Mraz - bass;
Emil Viklicky - piano;
Zuzana Lapcikova - vocals, cymbalom;
Billy Hart - drums;


01. Aspen Leaf (Na Osicce) [05:48]
02. Oh, Mountain (Ej, hora, hora) [04:42]
03. Gray Pigeon (Videla jsem meho holubka siveho) [04:51
04. Up in a Fir Tree (Na kosatej jedli) [03:45]
05. Myjava [06:17]
06. She Walks in a Meadow (Chodila po roli) [04:55]
07. Little Black Swallow (Lastovenka, cerny ptak) [02:46]
08. Desire (Touha) [04:54]
09. Wine, Oh Wine (Vink, Vinko) [06:37]
10. Gray Falcon (Zalet sokol, sivy ptak) [02:05]
11. The Sun Goes Down (Slunecko sa nizi) [06:17]
12. Jurenko, Jurenko [03:51]

Recorded at The Studio, NYC on June 09-11,2000

Although George Mraz is listed as the leader here, the session really belongs to pianist-arranger Emil Viklicky and vocalist-cymbalomist Zuzana Lapcikova. These are songs based on or inspired by Moravian (eastern Czech) folk music. But this music is given a definite jazz spin by Viklicky's outstanding arrangements and the solid rhythm section of Mraz and drummer Billy Hart.
Lapcikova has a beautiful, somewhat plaintive voice that sounds like it would also do well with more traditional settings of this music. Here she's backed by an empathetic jazz trio, and it works. This reminds me a lot of John Taylor and Norma Winstone's Azimuth project, maybe with Miroslav Vitous subbing for Kenny Wheeler. Viklicky is an accomplished pianist, handling a range of material from sensitive ballads to up-tempo swingers, although the average tempo seems to be somewhere around medium to medium-slow. The occasional appearances by Lepcikova's cymbalom add a strange and interesting tinge to a familiar sound-world. There aren't any real avant-garde elements here, but the combination of ingredients adds up to an unusual and delightful CD. - Joe Grossman


In the 20th century, jazz artists were influenced by a wide variety of world music everything from Brazilian samba (Stan Getz) to Middle Eastern and Indian music (John Coltrane, Yusef Lateef) to Swedish folk (Jan Johansson). Jazz/world fusion still offers endless possibilities; regrettably, too many of hard bop's unimaginative "Young Lions" are too busy playing the same old Tin Pan Alley standards the same old way to try anything new. But if you're seeking something fresh from jazz, George Mraz's Morava is well worth exploring. Recorded in 2000, this gem finds the Czech bassist successfully combining jazz with traditional Moravian folk. Some of the songs are instrumental, but most of them feature Czech singer Zuzana Lapcíková -- a soulful, charming artist who is also known for playing the cymbalom (a dulcimer that is used in Eastern Europe). All of the lyrics are in Czech, although Milestone/Fantasy provides English translations. It isn't every day that you hear Czech lyrics and jazz rhythms at the same time, but the two prove to be quite compatible. Morava isn't the first example of a jazz artist looking to Eastern Europe for inspiration Swedish pianist Jan Johansson recorded an album of Russian folk songs (Jazz in Russian), and in 1999, Helen Merrill incorporated Croatian elements on Ana Jelena Milcetic, aka Helen Merrill (which employed Mraz on double bass). But even so, it's safe to say that post-bop/Moravian fusion isn't something that the jazz world has been inundated with. Consistently risk-taking and exploratory, Morava is among Mraz's finest accomplishments. ~ Alex Henderson, All Music Guide


George Mraz's "Morava" is an ambitious project which yielded gorgeous results. A native of Czechoslovakia, and one of jazz's great bassists, he decided to meld the folk music of his native land (Moravia) with the jazz music of his adopted country (the U.S).

Some musical experiments succeed, while others fail, but "Morava" is definitely in the former category. This is just a gorgeous album, full of beautiful tunes, wondrous playing, and the ethereal vocals of Zuzana Lapcíková.

Mraz's bass playing is a marvel. It is muscular, yet sensuous and delicate and wondrously melodic at the same time. He is one of those gifted musicians who just seems to exude musical perfection, always hitting exactly the right note with exactly the right phrasing.

The other musicians (Billy Hart on drums, Emil Viklicky on piano and Lapcikova occasionally on cymbalom) perform beautifully as well. To say that they are all on the same page is an understatement. The interplay is positively telepathic. Though on the quiet side, the music is propulsive and consistently engaging. Your foot will be tapping while your ears drink in the melodies.

I wish I could compare this album to something else, but nothing really comes to mind because it is fairly unique. The vocals might appeal to fans of Astrud Gilberto, Flora Purim, and even Joni Mitchell. The music should appeal to jazz-heads, bass players, and anyone with an appreciation of beauty.
By Paul J. Escamilla "sentient being" (NYC)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Emil Viklický - Zuzana Lapciková - Jiri Pavlica - Prsí dést [Fast Falls The Rain]

Emil Viklicky - piano;
Zuzana Lapcikova - dulcimer, vocals;
Jiri Pavlica - violin, hurdy-gurdy, tromba marina, Jew's harp, vocals;

additional musicians on tracks 2, 5, 8-10,13, 15:
Frantisek Uhlir - double bass;
Josef Vejvoda - drums;


01. Prolog [01:45]
02. Prsí dést [04:58]
03. Grumla [04:34]
04. Kvítí milodejné [04:04]
05. Sibenicky [03:41]
06. Bazalicka [04:40]
07. Bylo lásky [03:59]
08. Kone moje vrané [03:47]
09. Ked sa Janko na vojnu bral [06:17]
10. Mal som 7 penazí [02:07]
11. Na horách, na dolách [04:18]
12. Dyby ne tak bylo [03:57]
13. Masíruju na Francúza [03:00]
14. Touha [04:51]
15. Epilog [03:50]

Recorded at Demovina Studio, Prague on April 1994
Lotos LT 0014-2 531

“…When most American jazz buffs think of the Czech Republic, they probably think of bassists George Mraz and Miroslav Vitous or keyboardist Jan Hammer. However, Europeans knowledgeable about the same topic probably think of Emil Vicklický, the acknowledged "Patriarch of Czech Jazz Piano." Known for combining the melodism and tonalities of Moravian folk music with modern jazz harmonies and classical orchestration in a distinctly individual style, Vicklický grew up in the former Czechoslovakia, where his father was a university art professor. He graduated in 1971 from Palacky University with a degree in mathematics, and applied to graduate school with a view to becoming a professor himself. His first postgraduate lesson was also his last: learning that in communist Czechoslovakia circa early 1970s, political correctness was more important than academic merit, convincing him to pursue a musical career instead.

In 1974 he was awarded the prize for best soloist at the Czechoslovak Amateur Jazz Festival, and in 1976 he was a prizewinner at the jazz improvisation competition in Lyon. His composition "Green Satin" earned him first prize in the music conservatory competition in Monaco, and in 1977 he was awarded a one-year scholarship to study composition and arrangement at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Since returning to Prague, he has led a variety of quartets and quintets and lectured at summer jazz workshops in both the Czech Republic and Wales. From 1991 to 1995, Vicklický served as president of the Czech Jazz Society, and since 1994 he has worked with the Ad lib Moravia ensemble, which had a highly successful concert tour of Mexico and the United States in 1996. Vicklický often performs in international ensembles with American and European musicians, including the Lou Blackburn International Quartet and the Benny Bailey Quintet. He has made frequent appearances in Finland with the Finnczech Quartet and in Norway with the Czech-Norwegian Big Band, and he has performed throughout Europe as well as in Japan and Israel. The editor of Rolling Stone magazine once wrote of Vicklický that, "it was a delightful surprise to see such first-class, top-of-the-line jazz in Prague."…
AAJ: You're known for combining Moravian folk music and jazz. I'm curious, given that your audience tonight will be primarily Czech-Americans, will you do anything different than you might if you were, say, just playing at some jazz club in New York or Chicago?

EV: No, I don't think so. That is my trademark, and the only thing that might be different tonight is that the audience might be even more responsive, and they may know some of the folk songs I use. On the other hand, I've reharmonized, even changed them rhythmically pretty far from the original, and they might not recognize them. Something I do in the Czech Republic which has been commercially successful is touring with Zuzana Lapcikova, a folk singer who is educated in ethnography. She's a very good singer; she dresses in the traditional folk garb, gives some background, and she sings the melody in its original form. And then we take it on and gradually change it into something, and then we gradually bring it back…
by Victor Verney (allaboutjazz)
Full interview: