Dating back to the 1980s, Italian jazz pianist Roberto Magris had been working with jazz luminaries such as Kai Winding and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis while also performing extensively with Eastern and Central European artists. Late in that decade he recorded three albums with his quartet/quintet formation on they performed across that same region. In the 1990s Magris developed an affinity for the Hammond organ and toured throughout the Americas in that capacity. Among the dozens of top artists he has worked with, are Albert "Tootie" Heath and Idris Muhammad. Magris now returns to his Eastern European inspirations with his MUH Trio on Prague After Dark.
The trio name is an acronym for its members, Margis, bassist František Uhlíř and drummer Jaromír Helešic, the rhthym section, both natives of the Czech Republic. Along with a host of regional associations, Uhlíř has worked with Dave Weckl, Phil Woods and Palle Mikkelborg. Helešic is considered a legend of modern Czech jazz and has also performed with groups on three continents. Though the three musicians have a history that dates back twenty-five years, Prague After Dark is their debut album.
As new music, MUH falls into an informal hybrid that blends straight-ahead jazz, swing and bop; upbeat and often intricate, the music is modern and erudite. Margis and Uhlíř individually contribute seven of the ten compositions on the album beginning with the two highly engaging opening numbers "Another More Blues" (Margis) and Nenazvana (Uhlíř). Both are mainstream pieces but with inventive piano and bass solos. Herbie Nichols' "Third World" and Don Pullen's "Joycie Girl" sees the group break out with freer and more resourceful improvisations. The title track is the lone ballad on this otherwise energetic collection.
Despite sharing credits on thirty recordings and touring in more than forty countries, Margis is not well known in the West and that is a shame. An excellent pianist and accomplished composer, he is in good company on Prague After Dark. Uhlíř bass workboth arco and pizzicatois outstanding as is Helešic's subtle touch in guiding the group through its more involved passages. Prague After Dark is a more than a characteristic piano trio album and should please mainstream jazz audiences.
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.
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