How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Jazz at Prague Castle was initiated in February 2004 by the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus. The series of performances has featured some big names from that country including bassist Frantisek Uhlir, who had previously released the live Jazz at Prague Castle 2006 (Multisonic, 2006), featuring a trio and a guest appearance by trumpeter/flugelhornist Dusko Goykovich
. On Double Bass Session, Uhlir comes up with the interesting concept of having five bassists in the band for a unique structure.
After the customary introduction by the President, the band eases into the supple "Blues For Five." Its sweet tones are lit by alto saxophonist David Vrobel, who swings in and then takes the melody on a versatile journey with several interesting asides. All five bassists color the tune and, with the arrangements giving them room to define their paths, there is no clutter. After a brief dialogue between the arco of one bass and the chords of another, guitarist Adam Tvrdy primes his eloquence. His development of the theme, juicy and free flowing, adds an exuberant angle. But this is one for the bass players and they sing out the coda, a zip in every note.
The classic "Rosemary's Baby" is given a sumptuous reading. The music palpitates as the bass rolls in on waves of emotional impulse that is then essayed by Vrobel. The lead voice moves around turning the variations of approach into an aural treat. Both Tvrdy and Vrobel swing deliciously, accompanied by the crisply driven accents of drummer Jan Linhart. The bassists are no slouches either as they scope the under layer with pliant and becoming grace.
"Tense" is whipped into a funky beat on the bass before it springs into a jaunty line into bop. The hard vent of the saxophone is spurred by the rhythm section, a construct that continues when the guitar lets the liquid notes swing into the open.
Uhlir plants the seeds of folk music on the haunting "Lost and Found." The rich and resplendent texture is woven by the floating lines of the saxophone and the bass to make an unforgettable impression.
The material and the creative energy of the band makes this a top-notch record.
Track Listing: Uvod (introduction by the President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus); Blues For Five; Rosemary's Baby; PF 2000; Tense; Bouncin' With Bud; Lost and Found; Not at Home Again.
Personnel: Frantisek Uhlir: double-bass (2-4, 6-8); Ali Haurand: double-bass (2, 3, 5); Petr Dvorsky: double-bass (2, 4, 5, 7, 8); Vit Svec: double-bass: (2, 4, 5, 7, 8); Tomas Baros: double-bass (2, 4, 5, 7, 8); David Vrobel: alto saxophone; Adam Tvrdy: guitar; Jan Linhart: drums.