If experience really is the best teacher, meet three of Europe's most well-schooled jazz musicians who together make up the recently formed MUH Trio. The "M" is Italian pianist Roberto Magris
(age fifty-eight), the "U" the sixty-seven-year-old Czech bassist Frantisek Uhlir
, the "H" Czech drummer Jaromir Helesic, the trio's elder statesman at age seventy.
On Prague After Dark,
their debut recording as a unit, these seasoned pros prove time and again that there's precious little they don't know about making lovely music together, especially when it comes to snug teamwork and swinging. And in spite of the fact that their collective age is just short of two hundred, they carry out their collective tasks with the intensity of teen-agers auditioning for their first paying gig. To state it more plainly, these senior citizens can flat-out play.
Besides serving as the trio's melodic anchor, Magris is its chief arranger and composed half of the album's ten charming selections. Uhlir wrote two, with others by Herbie Nichols
("Third World"), Don Pullen
("Joycie Girl") and the team of Jerome Kern and Leo Robin (the standard "In Love in Vain"). Uhlir's nimble bass (Arco and string) is showcased on his luminous ballad, "From Heart to Heart," while Magris travels far afield with the rhythmic "Song for an African Child" and evocative "Iraqi Blues."
That's one of two numbers with "blues" in its title (the other is Magris' ambling opener, "Another More Blues"), and elsewhere the blues is never far removed from the trio's awareness, whether on Magris' "Prague After Dark," Pullen's "Joycie Girl" or the moderately Latin-flavored "Summer's Kiss." Mention should also be made of Uhlir's other tune, the buoyant "Nenazvana," as it is one (among many) of the session's highlights, as is the sunny mid-tempo finale, "In Love in Vain."
Magris, who has recorded more than thirty albums in the U.S. and abroad, clearly knows what he is about, and has chanced upon kindred souls in Uhlir and Helesic. Let us hope the trio remains intact and produces more recordings as bright and admirable as Prague After Dark.
Another More Blues; Nenazvana; Third World; Prague After Dark; Joycie Girl; From Heart to Heart; Song for an African Child; A Summer’s Kiss; Iraqi Blues; In Love in Vain.