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Ondrej Stveracek: Calm

Edward Blanco By

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Veteran Chech-Republic hard-bop saxophonist Ondrej Stveracek, has been a mainstay of the European jazz scene and remains one of the finest proponents of the bop sound, now delivers another outstanding musical statement with the misleadingly titled Calm, since the meat of this date, is far more explosive and fiery than calm in texture. The album's repertoire—all originals (five from the leader, two from the bassist and one from Amsterdam saxophonist Emiel Wienholts)—can be more accurately described as sizzling modern bop with a flair.

The recording features Philadelphia-born and New York-based drummer Gene Jackson, former member of the Herbie Hancock bands and now an educator when not performing or on tour. The quartet also includes long -time band mate and fellow countrymen, bassist Tomas Baros with Slovakian pianist Klaudius Kovac rounding out the foursome. This musical assemblage of talent turns out to be one of the pleasant surprises here as this quartet is tight and produces one heck of a powerful sound.

The album starts out with a hard-bop-tinged original from the leader highlighted by forceful tenor voicings, strong pounding stick work on solo moments from Jackson and delightful key work from the pianist making the tune "Spanish," an excellent beginning to excellent recording. While the overwhelming music here is certainly, of the hard boppish style, there is one beautiful soft spot here and that goes to the Baros composition "Red in Brown" where the saxophonist is warm and gentle and the pianist, sublime.

Stveracek's original "Jin-Fizz" and the title track returns the music to its main theme with more modern pieces like "E.N.T." and "D1" —all percolating with a decidedly hard-bop flair featuring the saxophonist on some of his best solo spots. One of the highlights here, has to be the group's version of the Wienholts composition "King of Saxophone," not entirely a hard-bop piece, this one has a terrific melody that's a tad more mellow but still, features a whaling saxophonist on great flame throwing solos.

The finale piece has a familiar title with "Meditation," but should not be confused with the more, oft-recorded composition from Antonio Carlos Jobim as this "Meditation," has no Brazilian connection and is all Stveracek's resembling the music on this date. This Ondrej Stveracek Quartet comes out swinging with one blistering burner after another showing little respect for the album's misguided title Calm nevertheless, this is truly one compelling session of jazz sure to stir up some excitement. With outstanding musicianship and an energized selection of music worth repeated spins, saxophonist Stveracek has another winner of a recording on his hands, certain to get serious attention.

Track Listing: Spanish; Red in Brown; Jin-Fizz; Calm; E.N.T.; King of Saxophone; D 1; Meditation.

Personnel: Ondrej Stveracek: tenor saxophone; Gene Jackson: drums; Klaudius Kovac: piano; Tomas Baros: acoustic bass.

Title: Calm | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced

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