184

Larry Vuckovich: Somethin' Special

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist Larry Vuckovich made his recording debut as a leader with Blue Balkan (Inner City Records, 1980), although his playing career began in the '50s, after he arrived in the United States from his native Yugoslavia as a teenager. His recorded output as a leader has been relatively sparse—around a dozen albums—but he's carved out a successful career as a sideman, most notably in a 25-year relationship with singer Jon Hendricks.

On Somethin' Special, Vuckovich and his regular East Coast rhythm section of bassist Paul Keller and drummer Chuck McPherson are joined by saxophonists Scott Hamilton and Noel Jewkes. The repertoire comes mainly from bop composers such as Horace Silver, Tadd Dameron and Sonny Clark, with Vuckovich adding two of his own tunes to the list. Vuckovich has a light touch, which he uses to deliver some sparklingly delicate solos—his unaccompanied rendition of Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica" is especially lovely—and which eminently suits the role of rhythm section player in support of his guest saxophonists.

Hamilton is probably the best-known and most prolific recording artist on this date, and while he's not known as a bop player, his talent and ability ensure that he sounds immediately comfortable with the tunes, right from his opening solo on Clark's "Somethin' Special." Jewkes, based in the San Francisco area, has a slightly fatter, funkier tone than Hamilton on tenor, ably demonstrated by his superb playing on Silver's "Enchantment." His soprano on Vuckovich's "Loving Linda," is crystal clear and shows exceptional lyricism.

The key tune on Somethin' Special is Dexter Gordon's "Cheese Cake." One of three tunes that feature all five players, it's also the longest track at just over nine minutes, and gives all members of the quintet a chance to stretch out. Hamilton and Jewkes sound like they've been playing partners for years, while Keller and McPherson both add punchy solos.

Somethin' Special is a lovely album, beautifully performed. Vuckovich has selected a set of tunes that includes some unjustly unfamiliar numbers, and Hamilton and Jewkes add grace and sensitivity to the excellent playing of the central trio.

Track Listing: Somethin' Special; Enchantment; What Will I Tell My Heart?; Comin' Home Baby; Soultrane; How Insensitive; Pannonica; Cheese Cake; Loving Linda; Zeljko's Blues; Star Dust.

Personnel: Larry Vuckovich: piano; Paul Keller: bass; Chuck McPherson: drums; Noel Jewkes: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone (1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9); Scott Hamilton: tenor saxophone (1, 3, 4, 6, 8).

Title: Somethin' Special | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Tetrachord Music


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Moment Frozen CD/LP/Track Review Moment Frozen
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Minor Step CD/LP/Track Review Minor Step
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 19, 2017
Read A Meeting Of Spirits CD/LP/Track Review A Meeting Of Spirits
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2017
Read First Light CD/LP/Track Review First Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "Knock A Hole In It" CD/LP/Track Review Knock A Hole In It
by James Nadal
Published: April 12, 2017
Read "The Seasons" CD/LP/Track Review The Seasons
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 11, 2017
Read "Live in Sant’Anna Arresi, 2004" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Sant’Anna Arresi, 2004
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 17, 2016
Read "Meditation / Resurrection" CD/LP/Track Review Meditation / Resurrection
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 8, 2017
Read "Sunset" CD/LP/Track Review Sunset
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 1, 2017
Read "Mask Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Mask Dance
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 3, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.