Recognized as one of the finest bassists in all of Europe, Czech Republic-born Frantisek Uhlir, presents Story of My Life, a self-produced personal project in celebration for turning seventy years-young in 2020. He does so in swinging fashion. The album booklet contains photographs with details of many proud moments throughout his life. An intentionally designed aspect of the album is the importance of the number seven to the leader. He composed a seven-part suite full of swing and swagger supported by a seven-piece ensemble of top-notch players and fellow countrymen.
An extraordinary musician by any count, Uhlir's performance brings forth the so-called Czech double-bass playing tradition forged by such players as George Mraz and Miroslav Vitous. While the leader's moments on the bass here are noted, it's the incredible performance of the entire band that succeeds in making this session of traditional straight-ahead jazz memorable on many fronts. There's not one track on this album that's not a keeper.
It is obvious that this is a special recording after sampling the opening "Prolog Born to Future," followed by "Part 1 Home" and "Part 2 Youth," where tenor saxophonist Suzanne Higgins and pianist Standa Macha shine with their solo spots. In essence, the music starts off with three stellar pieces providing a one-two-three punch offering a taste of what's to come. Uhlir introduces "Part 3 Usti-Brno-Praha" on the bow and reverts back to fingering the strings in a track that features the leader prominently as Andy Schofield lends marvelous solos on the alto saxophone.
The suite continues with two lively up beat numbers on "Part 4 A Life As A Musician," and "Part 5 Children"all musical statements referring to stages in the bassist's life. Trumpeter Frantisek Tomsicek, trombonist Premek Tomsicek and drummer Marek Urbanek are all pronounced on the piece. The group comes out playing loud and boisterous on "Part 6 Turbulence of Life," perhaps appropriate if meaning to document the common experience of the bumpy side of our existence.
To close out the set, Uhlir pens an emotional composition with "Part 7 From My Heart to All of You," a ballad tribute from the leader to all of us with beautiful solos from the pianist and of course, more solos from the bassist.
Story of My Life is an exceptional recording capturing an exceptional band led by a master on the bass, Frantisek Uhlir delivering a musical autobiography.
Prolog Born To Future; Part 1 Home; part 2 Youth; Part 3 Usti-Brno-Praha; Part 4 A Life As A Musician; Part 5 Children;
Part 6 Turbulence of Life; Part 7 From My Heart To All of You.
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