LARRY VUCKOVICH – Somethin’ Special – Tetrachord Music 686 73:24 ****:
(Larry Vuckovich – piano; Scott Hamilton – tenor sax 1/3/4/6/8; Noel Jewkes – tenor and soprano sax; Paul Keller – bass; Chuck McPherson – drums)
If the name Larry Vuckovich is not top of mind when thinking about bebop/post-bop pianists you would probably not be alone. However for those jazz fans in the know from the San Francisco Bay area, he is a local treasure worthy of a broader audience. With the release of Somethin’ Special this may transpire.
Working with a tight band of familiar collaborators, including special guest tenor man Scott Hamilton on five tracks, Vuckovich has delivered a swinging effort that can’t help but please jazz fans. Digging into the bebop archives, the playlist showcases tunes from the likes of Sonny Clark, Horace Silver, Tadd Dameron, Thelonious Monk, and Dexter Gordon. The title tune “Somethin’ Special” is a Clark number that gives the two tough tenors Scott Hamilton and Noel Jewkes ample opportunity to roll out with a series of bluesy exchanges. Horace Silver’s “Enchantment” is a quartet number featuring Noel Jewkes on tenor sax which holds our attention through the Latin like flavour of the composition. Scott Hamilton, who’s playing is an extension from the Ben Webster/Coleman Hawkins School of big tone tenors, offers a luxurious rendition of the little heard “What Will I Tell My Heart?” with Vuckovich showing the way with a stylish solo.
Over the next five cuts, “ Comin’ Home Baby” ,”Soultrane” ,”How Insensitive” ,”Pannonica” and “ Cheese Cake”, the band shows how versatile it is, and that each of the members both separately and together can express their exceptional musicianship. For example on “Comin’ Home Baby”, which Mel Torme’ turned in to Billboard hit in 1962, bassist Paul Keller lays down a beat that sets the tone for the group to tear into the tune. The same musical configuration puts the icing on the Dexter Gordon composition “Cheese Cake” with an interpretation that is full of bebop subtle shadings. Vuckovich does a solo turn on “Pannonica” as well as on “Stardust” and confirms that he has the chops to deliver either bop lines or luxuriant phrases and runs.
Vuckovich has included two of his own compositions on the disc namely “Loving Linda” which is a quartet track where Jewkes demonstrates his prowess on soprano sax, and “Zeljko’s Blues” on which the rhythm section validates their natural talents in a robust fashion. Finally, this session confirms that Larry Vuckovich is a probing pianist with some interesting things to say and a wider audience is on the horizon.
TrackList: Somethin’ Special; Enchantment; What Will I Tell My Heart?; Comin’ Home Baby; Soultrane; How Insensitive; Pannonica; Cheese Cake; Loving Linda; Zeljko’s Blues; StarDust
Vince Mendoza & Metropole Orkest -Orchestral jazz at its best…