Jazz-rock fusion of distinction…
Miroslav Vitous – Infinite Search – Embryo/Warner Music/ PurePleasure PPAN SD 524 – stereo vinyl (1969-2016) ***1/2:
(Miroslav Vitous – bass; Joe Henderson – tenor sax; John McLaughlin – electric guitar; Herbie Hancock – piano; Jack DeJohnette – drums; (Joe Chambers replaces DeJohnette on “Epilogue”))
Bassist Miroslav Vitous was only 22 years old when he recorded his debut album for Herbie Mann’s label, Embryo. Vitous was a part of Mann’s band at the time, and Herbie handled the production duties. Miroslav was a major young talent on the bass and was awarded a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music after being raised in what is now the Czech Republic. He immediately made a scene in New York working with major names including Freddie Hubbard, Clark Terry and Art Farmer.
Infinite Search made such a strong impression on the burgeoning jazz rock fusion community that Vitous was asked to be an original member of Weather Report. Quite the accomplishment for such a young player.
Infinite Search was an easy choice for an audiophile upgrade from PurePleasure on 180 gm vinyl. As an early jazz fusion issue from 1969, it featured a dream line-up of Joe Henderson, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock,and Jack DeJohnette. What is quite incredible for a grouping of this caliber is that Vitous, on acoustic bass, is clearly the leader. It would have been easy for him to just revel in the fact that he was among this group of fusion elite, content to soak in the talent of his esteemed mates. Not so, as he wrote five of the six tracks, and he gets nearly all the featured space.
On Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance” Miroslav takes right off propelled by DeJohnette, with Hancock percolating on electric piano. Not to be outdone, McLaughlin goes on a tear and Joe Henderson blows freely. “When Face Gets Pale” puts Vitous with the rhythm section only, and his bass chops are clearly prodigious.
The title track is introspective with McLaughlin supporting, and Herbie providing electric piano accents. Joe Henderson returns on “I Will Tell Him on You” and the sound stage opens before Miroslav again paints his palette of bass colors. For me the track goes on a bit too long, and some boredom sets in before the guitar solo section provides some more inspiration. My favorite track is the closer, “Epilogue” where Joe Chambers takes over the drum chair. It’s the most melodic number on the LP, quite ethereal with Hancock and Chambers setting a sonic cloud for Vitous to expand. Lovers of jazz fusion with rock sensibilities will find this reissue to be worth their consideration.
Freedom Jazz Dance, Mountain in the Clouds, When Face Gets Pale
Infinite Search, I Will Tell Him on You, Epilogue