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Universal Syncopations

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (19 Dec. 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ECM
  • ASIN: B0000B1JWL
  • Other Editions: Audio CD |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 190,988 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Product description

Product Description

An all-star band unites and reunites key musicians from ECM's past and present. Between them, the great Czech bassist Miroslav Vitous, Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek, American pianist Chick Corea, British guitarist John McLaughlin and American drummer Jack DeJohnette have shaped the nature of contemporary jazz.

When producer Manfred Eicher and Miroslav Vitous began discussing this project - Miroslav's first ECM date for a decade - one of the conceptual models was Vitous' very first leader recording, 1969's 'Infinite Search'. That historic landmark featured Vitous, McLaughlin and DeJohnette alongside Joe Henderson and Herbie Hancock. The new disc embodies the spirit of that era while also seeming thoroughly contemporary.

The purity of the music is perhaps its most striking characteristic. It has the freshness of discovery about it. This quality links it to the era when these stars-in-the-making were all still in the process of discovering their voices.

Miroslav Vitous, a founding member of Weather Report, has always been one of the truly outstanding bassists of jazz. His command of the instrument is total and thoroughly showcased on the new CD, which Vitous insists is his very finest. He plays the foreground as much as the background - majestically. The production, exceptional even by ECM's standards, reflects this.

One of the great pleasures of the session is hearing Jan Garbarek once again unambiguously playing jazz. His inventive, soaring playing recalls his best work with Jarrett's 'Belonging'. Just hear him play the blues, its fantastic - we've not heard him do this for so long - and so well.

The John McLaughlin we experience recalls the pre-Mahavishnu player, back when he was being hailed as the most significant European jazz guitarist since Django Reinhardt. Beautiful playing from Chick Corea, too, both as soloist and as a pianist giving impulses to the others - flashbacks to the days when he played behind Miles. And Jack DeJohnette remains the most endlessly versatile of drummers, bringing something new to every moment.

Jan Garbarek - (soprano and tenor saxophones), Chick Corea - (piano), John McLaughlin - (guitar), Miroslav Vitous - (double-bass), Jack DeJohnette - (drums)

Recorded between March 2000 and March 2003, the highly lyrical and rhythmically engaging Universal Syncopations has all the hallmarks of an ECM classic-in-the-making. Playing pizzicato throughout and contributing (or cocontributing) all the compositions, Miroslav Vitous, the great Czech bassist and cofounder of Weather Report, is joined by some of the finest musicians of the past few decades, who have done much to create the landscape of contemporary jazz: Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin and Jack DeJohnette. Vitous and Garbarek have recorded together twice before on ECM, on the 1991 Star and 1993 Atmos, and their melodic and dynamic empathy is a major feature here. Both contribute some of the strongest, most jazz-oriented work they have recorded for many a year, with DeJohnette's multi-directional stimulation enhanced on occasion by some urgently spun lines from McLaughlin and dabs of both rhythmic contrast and complementary colour from Corea.

The album opens and closes with now-nudging, now-floating trio reflections from the leader, Garbarek and DeJohnette. In between, Vitous and DeJohnette duet on "Medium" while three tracks, including the 10-minute, shape-shifting odyssey that is "Univoyage", feature judicious moments of harmonic and rhythmic punctuation from a brass ensemble of Wayne Bergeron, Valerie Ponomarev and Isaac Smith. Such a diversity of arrangements also includes a deliciously relaxed "Tramp Blues", the more abstracted Vitous/Garbarek/DeJohnette meditation of "Beethoven" and superb Vitous/Garbarek/Corea/DeJohnette interplay on the alternately flowing and fiery quartet pieces "Sun Flower" and "Miro Bop".

For all such diversity, the album is very much an integrated whole. Thirty years ago, when Vitous's ground-breaking 1969 Infinite Search (which featured McLaughlin and DeJohnette) was reissued on Atlantic, sleeve-note writer Michael Cuscuna observed, "Being a virtuoso of the bass, Miroslav constructs and develops the music around his instrument. But he uses it as the focal point with grace and taste, never with burdensome over-indulgence." Such words are equally applicable to Universal Syncopations--an album of maturely conceived, deeply satisfying music, where compositional character and improvisational finesse remain in fructifying balance from first note to last. --Michael Tucker

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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top customer reviews

VINE VOICEon 19 December 2003
Format: Audio CD
0Comment| 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 October 2003
Format: Audio CD
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 October 2007
Format: Audio CD
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Most helpful customer reviews on 3.9 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
4.0 out of 5 starsFour Stars
on 13 March 2017 - Published on
Verified Purchase
25 people found this helpful.
4.0 out of 5 starsGood middle-of-the-ECM-road
on 1 October 2003 - Published on
Format: Audio CD
57 people found this helpful.
5.0 out of 5 starsECM at its finest
on 2 October 2003 - Published on
Format: Audio CD
5 people found this helpful.
3.0 out of 5 starsBrainy jam session produces few long lasting sensations
on 1 October 2007 - Published on
Format: Audio CD
18 people found this helpful.
3.0 out of 5 starsPleasant groove
on 15 November 2003 - Published on
Format: Audio CD

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