Amazon.com Widgets

Emil Viklicky & George Mraz: Mraz & Viklicky: Together Again (2014)

By Published: | 3,477 views
Emil Viklicky & George Mraz: Mraz & Viklicky: Together Again How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

In European jazz the assimilation of folkloric influences has become commonplace as the American vernacular—or more specifically the Great American Songbook—exerts less of a hold. Czech musicians pianist Emil Viklický and bassist George Mraz's collaborations on Morava (Fantasy/Milestone 2001)—with drummer Billy Hart
Billy Hart
Billy Hart
b.1940
drums
and singer Zuzana Lapcikova—and Moravian Gems (Cube-Métier 2007) with singer/violinist Iva Bittova
Iva Bittova
Iva Bittova

vocalist
and drummer Laco Tropp—explored the beauty of Moravian folk music in a jazz context. ACT Music's Siggi Loch was so captivated that he has made it his mission to bring the music to a wider audience. Thus, Together Again sees Viklický and Mraz revisit the tunes from the two aforementioned recordings in an intimate duo setting.

Together Again is undoubtedly a jazz recording, and little wonder, as both musicians have spent decades delving into the standards repertoire. Mraz made his name with pianists Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
1925 - 2007
piano
and Tommy Flanagan
Tommy Flanagan
Tommy Flanagan
1930 - 2001
piano
and in the Thad Jones
Thad Jones
Thad Jones
1923 - 1986
trumpet
/Mel Lewis
Mel Lewis
Mel Lewis
1929 - 1990
drums
Orchestra. Viklický has led his own small ensembles, including a jazz-funk quartet with guitarist Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
b.1951
guitar
in 1979. However, Moravian folk has been ever-present in the pianist's music since his debut V Holomóci městě (Supraphon 1978). Viklický has also composed a significant number of classical works and it's these threads—the swing and blues of jazz, Moravian traditional melodies, and classical sensibilities—that largely define the music.

Five Viklický originals and his arrangements of six traditional tunes might suggest that this is a Viklický leader session in all but name. Still, Mraz's deeply sonorous tone and vibrant playing is as fundamental to the chemistry as bassist Georg Riedel
Georg Riedel
Georg Riedel
b.1934
's was to pianist Jan Johansson
Jan Johansson
1931 - 1968
piano
playing on Jazz Pa Svenska, (Megafon, 1964) perhaps the most outstanding example of traditional European folk music given the jazz treatment to this day. Viklický and Graz's light steps on two traditional tunes, the vignette "Dear Lover" and the quietly compelling "U Dunaja u Prešpurka" come closest to the chamber intimacy of that Johansson/Riedel recording,

Viklický imbues 19th century Czech classical composer Zdeněk Fibich's romantic "Poem," with a gentle bluesy lyricism, which Mraz replicates in an extended solo. Fibich was a contemporary of Antonín Dvořák, Gustav Mahler and Leoš Janáček, the latter of whom is something of a muse for Viklický. Two of Janáček's compositions are arranged afresh by the pianist; "Theme From 5th Part of Sinfonietta" flows with a slightly stately melodicism, while the blues-based "Thank You, Laca" is more romantic at its core. Both tunes highlight the duo's intuitive interplay and the loose-limbed freedom in their improvisations.

The blues number "A Bird Flew By" shifts subtly through the gears, moving between reflective melancholy and a more buoyant mood. "I Saw Grey Pidgeon" [sic] is a traditional tune given the blues treatment in a straight-forward yet appealing arrangement. More compelling is the harmonically arresting and rhythmically dynamic, "Austerlitz"—one of Viklický's most strikingly original compositions. The soulful "Moon Sleeping In The Cradle," the lightly stated classicism of "Up On A Fir Tree" and the delightful, elegant blues of "In Holomóc Town"—with fine arco work from Mraz—round out the set.

Together Again is an enchanting recording of subtle charms and a fine addition to ACT's growing Duo Art series. Doubtless for some it will serve as a reminder of Mraz's exquisite playing and for many more as a tardy introduction to Viklický—one of Europe's most significant and yet unheralded jazz pianists/composers.

Track Listing: Dear Lover; Poem; Theme From 5th Part of Sinfonietta; A Bird Flew By; U Dunaja u Prešpurka; Austerlitz; Moon, Sleeping In A Cradle; Thank You, Laca; Up On A Fir Tree; I Saw Grey Pidgeon; In Holomóc Town.

Personnel: Emil Viklický: piano; George Mraz: acoustic bass.

Record Label: ACT Music

Style: Modern Jazz


comments powered by Disqus
Support All About Jazz Through Amazon

Weekly Giveaways

Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith

About | Enter

Mort Weiss

Mort Weiss

About | Enter

Rotem Sivan

Rotem Sivan

About | Enter

Michael Carvin

Michael Carvin

About | Enter

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.