Whoever said that the saxophone most closely resembles the human voice probably never heard Michael Vlatkovich’s trombone. Actually Vlatkovich sounds a lot like my uncle Rocco. He always sounded a bit tipsy, even when he wasn’t drinking. When Rocco enters a room, everyone knows it, Blap, Fwap...everyone’s happy. When Vlatkovich speaks, er sings, it’s the same cavorting scale.
For this live date saxophonist David Mott and trombonist Tom Walsh augmented his quartet. The music is part Rahsaan Roland Kirk whirling circus and part Charles Mingus workshop. Meaning the compositions are open-ended and the improvisations are soulful. Vlatkovich knows something about structured improvisation, being a frequent collaborator on Los Angeles based Vinny Golia’s projects including his famed Large Ensembles.
Vlatkovich’s concepts start with the very aggressive Elvin Jones-muscular beat of drummer Chris Garcia. From this foundation, the piano-less band shifts pattern and time, not in sharp angles but sure-footed movements. They hop from blues to tangos and marches, all the time the trombones are vocalizing, articulating, and encouraging discourse. The bones bring out the voices of the saxophones. Bill Plake and Mott join in. A squeak here, repeated honks there, all add to the summit. Vlatkovich reminds me of a West Coast version of Tim Berne’s Bloodcount because the emphasis is placed upon group improvisation and non-traditional forms of music structure. All this in what I find to be very accessible music of the avant-garde. This disc is surely to be on my top ten releases of the year. Email: Vlattorb@aol.com
Track List:Red Leather Yellow Leather...Red Leather Yellow Leather; (Medley) A3 BFGHI3 NOR2 ST4/Anelim; Why Don’t You See Me?; (Medley) Ten On No Net/Maybe Another Time/5808085; Walzer Tanzen; 27529