When I met Pavel in 2011 to find out more about his own live trio project, I was intrigued not only by the project‘s compositions, instrumentation and personnel, but also by the unorthodox way it was recorded and mixed. We live in a time where gradually more World-music elements are being used in today’s music creations and where almost everyone uses the newest technology to achieve the best sound possible. Therefore, an idea to record a live jazz trio performance using just one stereo microphone felt a bit unusual to say the least. Just like Pavel, I, too, enjoy the old live recordings of The Bill Evans Trio, which were captured using a similar technique. It is true that one aspect of these live recordings, which makes them spontaneous, is hearing the reactions of the audience, ringing of porcelain plates as the silverware accidentaly hits them, or a noise caused by someone moving a chair just a bit closer to the stage. Therefore, I wanted to know what this kind of recording sounded like in today’s modern environment, especially when one can still use the latest technological inventions during mixing and mastering processes.
On this record, one can hear three excellent jazz musicians, whose backgrounds are connected via a study at the University Of North Texas in Denton (UNT). It is the university with the oldest jazz program on this planet, graduating world-class musicians since the early 1940s. One of the most famous big band drummers and UNT alumnus is John Riley (who has played with the whos who of the jazz heaven, such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gilespie, Milt Jackson, Stan Getz, to name a few). Since 1990 John has been a member of the famous The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (formerly known as Mel Lewis/Thad Jones Big Band, where John replaced the great late Mel after he passed away). Besides a steady engagement with this band, John is also well known for his jazz drumming theory books, such as „The Art of Bop Drumming“ or „Beyond Bop Drumming“, which have been used now for decades by most jazz schools. On the acoustic bass, we have one generation younger musician Mike McGuirk, who after graduating from UNT moved to New York City and broke into the scene with his amazing technical ability as well as steady pulse. He has performed and/or recorded with Lynne Arriale, John Abercromie, Mark Copland, Eddie Henderson, to name a few. The last member of this trio and also the leader and composer of all the music presented is Pavel Wlosok, who after graduating from Janacek Conservatory of Ostrava and a few years spent at Janacek Academy of Music in Brno, moved to the USA to pursue a professional carreer as musician and educator. That is where Pavel met both Mike and John while a student at UNT. Pavel is a tenured associate professor of jazz at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, where for the past ten years he has been helping talented jazz students get a better grasp of this art form. Although Pavel makes a living in the USA, he travels each summer to Central Europe and for many years now he has been on staff at various summer jazz camps in Prague (Czech Republic), Bratislava (Slovakia), or Nysa (Poland). Therefore, for the past fifteen years Pavel has been helping young and aspiring musicians from Central Europe find a way to become better musicians and improvisers.
This album has been divided into two parts. The first part consists of four songs and begins with an up-tempo swing song „Last Call“, which is structured into an unusual but logical ABC form. The second one is on older ballad „Autumn Impressions“, written for Pavel’s love of his life, Andrea, who he has been happily married to since 1999. Third is a song entitled „Speeding Ticket“ and expresses Pavel’s frustration with North Carolina state patrol, who caught him speeding 75mph in a 55mph zone. Thanks to this very expensive experience Pavel no longer drives this fast on his way home from work. The fourth song to finish off the first half is called „Victoria“ and was written in 2003 and dedicated to his older daughter.
The second part of this album consists of „The Jubilee Suite“ in four parts. Pavel’s main inspiration for this suite was the period of four seasons as captured and described in detail by Howard Hanger, the spiritual leader, writer, musician, and comedian of the Jubilee Community Church in Asheville, NC. This community provides services to people in need and combines many different religious concepts, while combining dance, music, poetry, and visual arts with a broad range of religious views and teachings. The movements are entitled Via Transformativa (spring), Via Positiva (summer), Via Negativa (fall), Via Creativa (winter). This near 30-minute long piece of music was composed specifically with both Mike and John in mind and finished just a few weeks prior to performing it live.
This live trio recording was captured on April 23, 2006, in The Grey Eagle music club in Asheville, North Carolina, as a part of the Jazz Composers Forum of Asheville series (a non-profit organization which is no longer in existence). As you’ll hear, it captures well not only the entire atmosphere of the club but also the excellent musicianship of all three performers involved. Because this recording is not using a multitrack setup (like we are used to hearing in more recent decades), there is no option for tweaking with sounds of the individual instruments or fixing any mistakes during the mixing and mastering stage. Therefore, everything you hear on this recording has been captured live in real time to bring you as close to the original experience as possible. The recording chain consisted of one vintage stereo tube Neumann SM2c microphone, followed by Millennia HV-3c preamp, followed by Dan Lavry Blue converters at 24/96 resolution and finally recorded with Alesis Masterink clocked to Lavry. The Mid/Side recording technique was used, which is more flexible in post processing in terms of bringing out the right balance between the sound of the intruments on the stage and the acoustics of the room, which was the objective.
Booklet art work was well taken care of by two talented ladies. Photography was done by already widely recognized Alzbeta Jungrova, who although still quite young has already broken into the world of documentary photography. Graphic art work was then created by already experienced Lucie Komarkova, who is part of the team at Lucy & Lucy graphic design studio.
It is my belief that right from the start of your listening experience, your ears will notice this album‘s unusual recording concept and sound presentation. It was no different with me. It is also my belief that this album will keep bringing you not only consistent enjoyment and satisfaction, but perhaps it will also help you forget about your daily worries and instead, it will take you on a musical journey full of emotions, compositional inspiration, and last but not least never ending continuous collective improvisation of three experienced musicians. Musicians, who with no doubt, play primarily with and off each other and are having a blast while at it.
Petr Marek, Co-producer, NEWPORTLINE owner