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Larry Vuckovich and the Euro Trash Band at the Douglas Beach House, Half Moon Bay, CA

Bill Leikam By

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In the piece, "I'll Never Smile Again" Vuckovich laid down the tune with stunning delicacy.
Larry Vuckovich's Euro Trash Band
Douglas Beach House
Half Moon Bay, CA
Sept. 6, 2009

World renowned pianist Larry Vuckovich (of Montenegro), bassist Buca Necak (Serbia), drummer Paul Van Wageningen (Holland), Latin percussionist Hector Lugo (Puerto Rico), and featured vocalist Valeriana Quevedo (USA) gathered at the Douglas Beach House on a Sunday afternoon as Vuckovich's Euro Trash Band. Trash they were not but they did bring to the Beach House variations on an international theme. Before his opening tune, Vuckovich said, "After traveling the world from venue after venue, this is the finest venue in the entire world."

"You're My Everything" opened the concert to a packed house with bass, piano and drums. It was straight ahead jazz, just a warm-up for things to come. At one point, Buca Necak on bass washed into a solo and unlike any other bassist I'm aware of, he vocalized as he plucked the strings. It was a nice twist that added an unexpected dimension to his solo. By the third tune, Hector Lugo had taken the stage on his congas and bongos. He is an impressive drummer. He doesn't play his hand drums as though he's beating them up like so many other hand drummers. Instead he is soft and smooth as though caressing the drum heads, yet he is clearly there in the mix. During the two sets and this may well have been because of his selection of songs, Vuckovich tended to play the middle of the keyboard, once in awhile reaching for the higher notes. In the piece, "I'll Never Smile Again," Vuckovich laid down the tune with stunning delicacy.

Late in the first set it was clear that the concert had settled into the Latin rhythms. With the appearance of vocalist Valeriana Quevedo that was made abundantly clear. She sang in both Spanish and English. It's remarkable how much a woman's voice can add. Valeriana's ability to span the gambit of vocal range not only added to the songs but she has incredible control whether she's belting out an old standard or signing a passionate love song in Spanish. At the end of the first set a surprise guest, dancer Adrian Bermudez, took the stage. He and Valeriana danced to a Latin piece. Not only does Bermudez know his dance moves but his eyes are especially expressive. That dance brought the set to a close with an uproar of applaud from the crowd.

The second set continued exploring a wide range of music including one improvisational piece. Vuckovich announced it and then asked for someone in the audience to give him a set of four notes. One person rose and called out, "A, B, B, A." Larry tinkered around with it on his keyboard, nodded to the rest of the band and everyone slid in and picked up from off of the piano's lead. There was no key. The band launched into a totally improvisational, tonal piece created on the spot. Later in the set, Vuckovich and drummer Van Wageningen called back and forth to one another until Van Wageningen took up his rapid fire solo, his sticks dancing over his drums and then circling up and around his cymbals. Lugo came in with his heart-felt congas but this time his hands whipped across them in almost a blur. Necak's bass solo rhythmically sounded like a Spanish guitar.

As mentioned, Euro Trash is far from being trash. The show was not only musically inspiring but it showed off Vuckovich's legendary versatility and his love of all styles of jazz. That was picked up by the audience who gave him a roaring final applaud in deep appreciation for an afternoon and evening well worth every moment spent. If you ever see Larry Vuckovich's name anywhere in the world, treat yourself. You'll not regret it for one moment.


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