(Larry Vuckovich, piano; Larry Grenadier, bass; Akira Tana, drums; Hector Lugo, congas; Vince Delgado, bongos & tabla on two tracks)
Pianist Vuckovich came to San Francisco from Communist Yugoslavia as a teenager in the early 50s and has become one of the leading jazz pianists there. I recall hearing him when I lived there. He has led several CDs but this is the first for a full length piano trio album. The title tune for the album has been one of my favorites since I had it on a red plastic 78 as a kid. It was conducted by its composer Alfred Newman and Street Scene became a popular theme for several film noir classics, of which Vuckovich is a great fan. The earthy, bluesy, big-city feeling of the tune – at nearly seven minutes – is one many of the 13 tracks convey well.
Three originals by Vuckovich are included in the session. One is Scandinavian Waltz, which comes from time he spent in the 60s in Scandinavia playing with Niels Henning Orsted-Pederson and various American players. Blue in Green by Miles Davis is a tribute to Bill Evans, with whom Vuckovich shared a stage at a European jazz festival. That track shares an impressionistic touch with his trio’s take on Under Paris Skies; Vuckovich says Debussy and Ravel are among his favorite composers. His version of the hit tune from Casablanca has Rick and his club moved to Havana before the revolution.
Everything swings along throughout the album and Vuckovich has just enough of a special angle on every tune to avoid any feeling of sameness. The contributions of Lugo and Delgado on some of the tracks also aids the fresh impression.
Tracks: Dexter’s Mode, Street Scene, News for Lulu, As Time Goes By Mambo, I’ll Wait and Pray, I Ain’t Got Nobody, Blue in Green, Come Rain or Come Shine, Oh You Crazy Moon, Blue Bohemia Suite, Scandinavian Waltz, It Could Happen to You, Under Paris Skies Impressions.
– John Henry