Miroslav Vitous - Universal Syncopations

2003 CD release

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Between 2000 and March this year, Vitous assembled a team of famous players for a single dazzling record project – including Jan Garbarek, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea and Jack DeJohnette. And the music this quintet of bandleaders produced over the three-year gestation of Universal Syncopations is as big as the idea. …

The opening “Bamboo Forest” is a parade for them all, with Garbarek’s silvery soprano sound entering over DeJohnette’s chattery Latin pulse and ringing cymbal exclamations, the sax-phrasing growing closer to Wayne Shorter’s as the undulations of Corea’s piano figures and the elastic snap of Vitous’s bass appear around it. McLaughlin’s opening phrase is a quote from the late Wes Montgomery’s West Coast Blues, as if to announce his intentions to rekindle old fires. On “Univoyage”, the ensemble sound borders on free-jazz, but is constantly throttled back to the lazily taut group textures of the mid-1960s Miles band by the contributions of a very selectively deployed brass trio. Garbarek then roundly dispatches all purist gripes that he’s a Euro-folkie who can’t play “real” jazz with a slyly swinging exploration of Vitous’s Tramp’s Blues that makes you want to get up and applaud. …

“Sunflower” begins as a brooding drifter, before surging into an urgent bass/drums groove, again eagerly explored by a now deviously dynamic Garbarek, and with Corea’s abstract flurries even suggesting Britain’s Keith Tippett. But if all this sounds like a jazz-purist’s exercise, check the ecstatic funk on “Beethoven”, or the dark, ambient murmur of Vitous’s majestic bass on the slow “Brazil Waves”. This is a wonderful contemporary jazz set with a sense of the past, but in which all the players reconsider their histories to maximise the intensity of the present.
John Fordham, The Guardian

(044003850620)

SKU 044003850620
Barcode # 044003850620
Brand ECM Records

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