Miroslav Vitous: Universal Syncopations (2003)
The album kicks off with the lush "Bamboo Forest," which features a gentle rhythmic pulse laid down by DeJohnette and Vitous. Garbarek weaves a hypnotic line through the bass and drums with his soprano sax. While I greatly admire and respect Jan Garbarek, I sometimes find his tone to be a little too sweet and cloying. Happily, that is not the case here. "Bamboo Forest" sets the pace for the album, letting the listener know that he's in for a real treat.
Corea and McLaughlin first appear on "Univoyage." Both men play beautifully and with great taste. The music is at once adventurious and understated. In this conference of giants, no one need shout: everything is said simply and in a whisper.
"Beethoven," another highlight, opens with DeJohnette tapping out a rhythm on the cymbal while Vitous and Garbarek engage in a dialogue that sparkles with wit and sophistication. On the closing track, "Brazil Waves," Vitous and company bring something new to the old bossa nova. The album ends as it begins, in quiet elegance.
Simply put, Universal Syncopations is one of the loveliest albums to come along in quite some time. With great writing and top-notch performances all around, this is not an album to be described, but to be heard. My best advice is to listen to it, and let the music explain itself.
Track Listing: Bamboo Forest; Univoyage; Tramp Blues; Faith Run; Sun Flower; Miro Bop; Beethoven; Medium; Brazil Waves.
Personnel: Mirosalv Vitous, bass; Jan Garbarek, soprano and tenor saxophones; Chick Corea, piano; John McLaughlin, guitar; Jack DeJohnette, drums; Valery Ponomarev, Wayne Bergeron, trumpets; Isaac Smith, trombone.
Record Label: ECM Records
Style: Modern Jazz