Libor Smoldas Quartet: Live At Jazz Dock (2010)
Czech guitarist Libor Smoldas doesn't buy into the idea that music is simply meant to be a product for commerce. While Smoldas peddles some of his recorded wares like the rest of the performing musicians out there, his third albumLive At Jazz Dockis actually free for the taking for anybody who wants to visit his website and download it. His self-admitted goal is "simply to get the music to the widest audience possible," and this would seem to be the best way to do it.
The nine live tracks that Smoldas delivers serve as a fine overview of his written oeuvre: "Funky Piece" and "Christopher's Dance" were presented on his debut, On The Playground (Animal Music, 2007); "Lydian Blues" and "Tram Line 57" were originally presented on In New York On Time (Animal Music, 2010); and the remaining compositions represent Smoldas' writing circa 2010.
While In New York On Time paired the young guitarist with American A-listers like bassist George Mraz and drummer Jeff Ballard, this particular album features an outstanding Czech quartet that shares a deep musical connection, and it shows at every turn. "Blues In The Shower" presents the band in top form, toying with a three-against-four, hemiola-type scenario as each solo takes off, whole "One For Kenny Burrell" shows that this group can excel in odd-metered environments.
Fender Rhodes phenom Petr Benes proves to be the chameleon of the group, conjuring vibraphone-like tones in softer moments and more stirring sounds when the heat is on high, but this isn't one of those dates where the guitar and Rhodes dominate, while the bass and drums simply keep time. Drummer Josef Feco and bassist Thomas Hobzek are both given ample space to shine as supporting players and soloists, and they never disappoint. Hobzek's solo on "Funky Piece" is the highlight of the song, though Smoldas comes close with a solo that contains a witty "Surrey With The Fringe On Top" quote, and he brings a brief bit of bombast to the otherwise quiet "Lydian Blues." Feco makes his mark early on, during the album-opening "Christopher's Dance," and continues to dazzle every time he gets some room. Generous as can be with his band mates Smoldas remains the dominant voice throughout, his single-note lines on the album opener an early indicator of his ability to balance technical prowess with taste, an ideal on which he continues to build as the album progresses.
It's very rare that something can simultaneously have no price and be dubbed "priceless" in a positive, artistic sense, but this album fits the bill. Find it for free here.
Track Listing: Christopher's Dance; Blues In The Shower; The Quest; Tram Line 57; One For Kenny Burrell; Levitation; J.T. Blues; Lydian Blues; Funky Piece.
Personnel: Libor Smoldas: guitar; Petr Benes: Fender rhodes; Tomas Hobzek: drums; Josef Feco: bass.