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Smile Baby Smile

Smile Baby Smile by Pavel Wlosok
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Pavel Wlosok

Label: New Port Line
Released: 2016
Duration: 67:51
Views: 480

Track Listing



Additional Personnel / Information

PAVEL WLOSOK – fender rhodes, compositions PAUL BOLLENBACK – guitar, compositions ZACK PAGE – acoustic bass EVAN MARTIN – drums BYRON HEDGEPETH – percussion (tracks 1, 3, 4, 5, 9)

Album Description

I feel truly lucky to have been a close friend of Pavel Wlosok. We have known each other, I think, quite well and have been cooperating together for many years now. This recording is already the fourth one we have collaborated on. During all this time Pavel has earned my utmost respect. In addition, I’ve been able to closely watch both his compositional and musical development, as well as his progress in the field of recording and music production. It is Pavel’s hard work and attention to detail while always looking for the best possible outcome in his productions that I find fascinating about him. Be it the selection and placement of the microphones, decision about what preamplifiers to use, or what outboard gear and effects to use during the mixing and mastering processes, he seems to be on top of his game each time. It was Pavel’s idea, which he happened to share with me, to record an album in which his Fender Rhodes electro-acoustic piano sound would blend with the sound of the jazz guitar. According to him, both instruments complement each other extremely well and offer completely different combinations of colors than the more commonly known combinations of guitar with Hammond organ or, guitar with the acoustic piano. So, when Pavel first met American jazz quitarist, Paul Bollenback, in 2009 during their teaching at the summer jazz workshop in Prague, Czech Republic, he began to seriously consider making this project a reality. Paul has been among the very top main-stream jazz guitarists in the USA for some two decades now and his collaboration with jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco turned out to be exactly the type of experience Pavel needed for this project. The rhythm section consists of two young, but very talented musicians, living in Western North Carolina, a place I personally had a chance to visit and found extremely beautiful. Zack Page is one of the best bassists currently living in Asheville. He is the type of bassist who is inspiring and communicative, with very strong time feel and willingness to accompany to 100% of his abilities. The drummer Evan Martin, who is a few years younger, is rather an introvert type of a musician, and who is generally more comfortable playing rock music. He was, however, a great choice for this project for two reasons. First, he approaches playing the jazz drum set in a percussive way, which leaves enough space in his accompaniment for another percussionist to be added without making it sound too busy. Secondly, his drum set setup is organized in a very unique manner. Percussionist Byron Hedgepeth has been Pavel’s friend for many years now, and is equally comfortable playing a melodic percussion, a drum set, as well as Latin percussion. Tracking of his percussion work was done toward the end of this project using the standard studio technique of overdubbing in Pavel’s home studio in Western North Carolina. This allowed Pavel full control over the entire process of not only recording Byron’s playing but also picking individual instruments and selecting from the variety of grooves Byron had to offer. This album begins with an optimistic arrangement of a well-known jazz standard My One And Only Love. Harmonic structure of this piece is pretty much left intact with a few exceptions, which in exchange helped this arrangement achieve a more modern sound. This standard 32-bar song form is extended at its end by six bars, which become part of each improvisation chorus. The opening theme of this arrangement was given to the double-bass, and one can notice intricate percussion work during the coda section. A nicely fitting original by Paul Bollenback entitled Invocation, and one of three original songs of his on this album, has given Pavel a brand new experience as Paul, the composer, required him to play the melody as much behind the beat as possible. This sixteen measures long song is built of four four-measure long phrases. The rubato section of the melody, which creates a contrast to the steady pulse of the rhythm section, makes this piece quite interesting. Storyteller is Pavel’s original waltz, which fuses elements of jazz pianist Bill Evans‘ harmonic language along with McCoy Tyner’s melodic approach. Formally speaking, this song is somewhat complicated, as well as irregular, consisting of five naturally inter-connected sections. It is one of those pieces, where both featured soloists can communicate with each other by improvising at the same time during an extended Coda. It is a concept reminiscent of the early Jazz music in New Orleans and often heard by Dixieland bands of today. Another original by Paul is his positively charged Billy! – a song which oscillates between Latin and Swing styles. The form is pretty traditional A, A‘, B, C except for the introduction which becomes part of each improvisatory chorus. Besides the swinging part C, all other parts are performed in Latin/Bossa Nova style and remind me of music from the 1960s (Art Blakey, Horace Silver). Structurally short ballad by Paul entitled Breathe has a surprise hidden inside in regards to the rhythmic subdivision changes made during the improvised choruses. This piece of music gives both main soloists the chance to decide about which subdivision they prefer to use at what time during their improvisation – either ballad-like straight eight feel, or twelve-eight Afro-Cuban. Everything Happens To Sphere is a ballad, which Pavel dedicated to the legacy of the great composer and pianist, Thelonious Monk, whose nickname was Sphere. This composition’s foundation was taken from another standard called Everything Happens To Me but both the melody and harmony were completely reworked and changed. It was Pavel’s goal to capture Monk’s dissonant philosophy in this composition. Paul Bollenback did a great job improvising over these changes. After recording this track, Paul had actually mentioned that: “this is a mine field even for the most advanced improvisers“. McCoy’s Mood is a nice medium, laid back swinging tune, which is performed in a comfortable dancing tempo. This piece features rather lighter melodic development and harmonic connections, which one would often hear in the 1950s. This piece was first recorded by the famous One O’clock Lab Band of the University of North Texas in Denton, where Pavel was a student in the 1990s. The ISIS Blues is a very slow, twelve-bar blues, which combines elements of melancholy and sadness, along with those of optimism and hope. It captures Pavel’s performing memory at ISIS music club located in Asheville, NC from few years ago. This club was founded a long time before the rise of the Islamic State and the name similarity is purely coincidental. In part, this song resembles the modal period started by Miles Davis‘ famous album Kind of Blue from 1959. Paul‘s guitar fills work at the beginning and the end of this piece is truly exceptional. The concept of Call and Response of the late 19th Century Blues is clearly heard in this arrangement. The final song Smile Baby Smile is another one filled with positive energy and optimism. It was composed shortly after Pavel’s first born daughter Victoria Sara came to this World in 2003 and represents a very happy period of Pavel’s family life. The form of this song is also interesting – a 16-bar introduction is part of each solo chorus and in addition serves as the ending for each soloist, and all the three remaining sections of A, B, C use basically one main theme and its variation throughout. We call this mono-thematic approach to composition. This technique was a favorite one of primarily Classical period composers, such as Mozart, or Beethoven, but can also be heard in the music of their predecessors Vivaldi, or Bach. One of two main tasks when producing this album was to create music that is optimistic, accessible, and would therefore capture a wider audience, regardless of what hard times of economic and political instability we live in these days. The second main goal was to create music, whose artistic value would not diminish over the course of time, without the need of it being commercially successful or overly simplistic. And to be able to combine these two rather contrasting goals into one cohesive result as represented on this album certainly wasn’t an easy task. As for me, I can say that everyone involved in this project has done very well. Actually, why don’t you take a listen and make up your own mind about all this... Petr Marek (July, 2016)


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