Album reviews

Emil Viklický, Miroslav Bukovský, John Mackey – ‘Wangaratta’

Emil Viklický, Miroslav Bukovský, John Mackey – Wangaratta
(Galen, . Album review by Mike Collins)

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Wangaratta is the second release this year showcasing a collaboration by Czech composer and pianist Emil Viklický. Between Us, reviewed HERE was a duo set with fellow Czech and reedsman Pavel Hrubý.

Wangaratta is a live trio recording from the jazz festival in the Australian town of that name. Viklický’s visit in 2018 occasioned the hook up with the trumpet and flugel horn of Miroslav Bukovský, resident in Australia since the late 60’s, and the tenor sax of John Mackey.

The dominant flavour of the music is the Viklický fingerprint of Moravian folk music, approached with a jazz sensibility. Two of the tunes, Love, of Love and Grey Pigeon are arrangements of traditional tunes that also appear on the pianist’s duo album on ACT with George Mraz; there’s an arrangement of the clarinet theme from the fifth movement of Janácek’s Sinfonietta and also two Viklický originals. That varied clutch of pieces from the Viklický oeuvre are complemented by two originals from Bukovský.

There’s a beautiful, intense, bittersweet atmosphere to this set. Bukovský’s fluid, soft tone on trumpet and flugel carries the mood perfectly, Mackey’s tenor adding a searching, thoughtful voice. Underneath and through it all is the piano; sometimes crystalline chords and shimmering flourishes, at others bubbling arpeggios, invariably shot through with a dynamic pulse,

Love Oh Love starts with a chiming motif on the piano, decorated by rippling phrases passed between piano and tenor, then the plaintive traditional theme appears. The tenor solo is thoughtful and shapely, flowing over a quietly propulsive accompaniment from the piano.

Bukovský’s Delicatessence introduces a more expansive sound over a lilting groove, a resonant flugel solo showcases the horn man’s lyrical, melodic instincts.

These three players are tuned into each other on this suite of atmospheric and individual pieces, gradually casting a spell as they dig in, explore and respond to each other, evoking a warm response from their audience. It’s well worth seeking out this recording.

Mike Collins is a pianist and writer based in Bath, who runs the jazzyblogman site. Twitter @jazzyblogman

LINK: Wangaratta at the Galen website

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