Story of My Life
is a seven-part suite (plus prologue) written by the outstanding and well-traveled Czech-born bassist Frantisek Uhlir
to appraise his life as a musician and evoke in musical terms memories of his boyhood home, his love as a teenager of music and sports, his studies at the Brno Conservatory, his life as a working musician, raising children of his own, the vicissitudes of life, and his gratitude for the good fortune that has come his way. Uhlir has summoned these memories at the ripe old age of seventy, a milestone he reached in July 2020, and at a time when he seems to be looking forward, not backward, with no plans to slow down or start looking for the nearest rest home.
Uhlir, in fact, remains at the top of his game on this splendid album, playing with precision and gusto while guiding his admirable septet through its paces on his engaging and accessible compositions. And even though the music is thematic in name, it is in practice a series of jazz essays that would be at ease in almost any contemporary framework. "Prologue: Born to Future" sets the tone, its spirited rhythms leading to agile solos by Uhlir, trumpeter Frantisek Tomsicek
and stalwart work by drummer Marek Urbanek
before the ensemble brings it home. Trombonist Premek Tomsicek
(talent must run in that family), tenor Suzanne Higgins
and pianist Standa Macha
share solo honors on the loping and groovy "Home," while Macha, Frantisek Tomsicek and alto Andy Schofield
shine on the bright and buoyant "Youth."
Uhlir's expressive arco bass introduces the meditative "Usti-Brno-Praha," on which he solos with Schofield. "A Life as a Musician" has a mid-1950s West Coast ambience, gliding easily along on the wings of light-hearted solos by Premek Tomsicek, Schofield and Macha, before the lovely "Children" provides another charming showcase for the septet, Uhlir's supple bass, Frantisek Tomsicek's radiant trumpet and Higgins' burnished tenor. "Turbulence of Life" is stormy yet lyrical, setting the stage for heated solos by Schofield, Premek Tomsicek and Macha, before Uhlir returns on arco to usher in the warm-hearted finale, "From My Heart to All of You," then sets aside the bow for an earnest solo, with Macha and Urbanek furnishing the backdrop before Macha offers some perceptive thoughts of his own.
If music is to be considered its epitome, Uhlir has led an interesting and colorful life, one that hasn't yet unreeled its final scenes. Although Story of My Life
may seem from its title like a eulogy or at least a farewell, it was intended more as an appreciation of what has been than a valedictory at life's end. In other words, any thought that Uhlir's "story" may have reached its endmost chapter is decidedly premature.
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.