ECM Bass Summit: Eberhard Weber & Miroslav Vitous
Like the earlier Universal Syncopations and the above mentioned Stages Of A Long Journey, Universal Syncopations II is a star-studded affair, sporting the likes of reedman Bob Mintzer, trumpeter Randy Brecker (listen to this disc and imagine what the late Michael Brecker would have brought to it), and drummer Adam Nussbaum. It should, however, be noted that regarding personnel, the only player Universal Syncopations and its progeny have in common is Vitous. Like Weber, Vitous employs orchestral touches to this disc, providing a contrasting composed layer to the improvisational core.
The organic nature of this disc is fully realized with the opening composition "Opera, where Vitous approximates the between-aria banter with a collection of shouts and laughter punctuating the music. Here, like the remainder of the recording, the barest compositional framework is erected to display the improvisational whims of the soloists. This is in stark contrast to Weber's release in the respect that Universal Syncopations II is more in the vein of "conventional" progressive-going-on-free jazz. Syncopations will appeal immediately to the free jazz enthusiast while Stages Of A Long Journey will appeal to those listeners requiring more compositional control in their free jazz ciaos.
Both Stages Of A Long Journey and Universal Syncopations II are music of the highest order. With a marketplace so saturated with product, much of which is quite good, sometimes it becomes difficult to differentiate the "good from the "exceptional or "great. These recordings belong to the latter and we should be grateful.
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Tracks and Personnel
Stages Of A Long Journey
Tracks: Silent Feet: Syndrome; Yesterdays; Seven Movements; Birthday Suite: The Colours Of Chloë, Piano Transition, Maurizius, Percussion Transition, Yellow Fields; Hang Around; The Last Stage Of A Long Journey; Air.
Personnel: Eberhard Weber: electrobass (1,2,4-12), double bass (3); Gary Burton: vibraphone (1,2,5-9,11); Jan Garbarek: soprano saxophone (1,4-9,11), tenor saxophone (2,5-9); Rainer Bruninghaus: piano (1,2,5-9,11); Marilyn Mazur: percussion (1,2,5-9,11); SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart, Roland Kluttig conductor: (1,5-9,11); Wolfgang Dauner: piano (3); Nino G: beatbox (10); Reto Weber: hang (10).
Universal Syncopations II
Tracks: Opera; Breakthrough; The Prayer; Solar Giant Mediterranean Love; Gmoong; Universal Evolution; Moment.
Personnel: Miroslav Vitous: double bass; Bob Mintzer: tenor saxophone (1,6,7), bass clarinet (7); Gary Campbell: soprano saxophone (1,2,4,5,7), tenor saxophone (3); Randy Brecker: trumpet (1,6); Adam Nussbaum: drums (1); Gerald Cleaver: drums (2-5,7); Daniele Di Bonaventura: bandoneon (5); Bob Malach: tenor saxophone (8); Vesna VaÅ¡ko-Cáceres: voice (8).