Emil Viklicky

'01

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Any American jazz collector who truly knows his/her stuff pays close attention to the import bins -- not only because of all the American jazz greats who have recorded for European labels extensively, but also because of talented European improvisers who do most or all of their recording for non-U.S. labels. Czech pianist Emil Viklicky, for example, has a sizable catalog in Europe but doesn't have a lot of albums out in the United States. Recorded live at Bratislava Jazz Days (a Czech Republic jazz club) in 2001 and released in the Czech Republic the following year, 'O1 paints a consistently attractive picture of his hard-swinging yet lyrical pianism. A 52-year-old Viklicky, who leads an acoustic trio that includes Frantisek Uhlír on double bass and Laco Tropp on drums, demonstrates that he is a very well-rounded player. The pianist shows how poetic he can be on reflective, impressionistic pieces like "Aspen Leaf" and "Lover, Come Back." But he has no problem being exuberant on Ray Brown's "Buhaina, Buhaina" (which was written for drummer Art Blakey) and the spirited "Wine, Oh Wine" ("Vínko, Vínko" in Czech). You can think of "Wine, Oh Wine" as the hard bop equivalent of an East European drinking song. In a lot of traditional East European folk -- Czech, Romanian, Hungarian, or otherwise -- drinking songs have been around for centuries. And Viklicky (who has brought Moravian influences to some of his work) was no doubt thinking of all those East European drinking songs when he wrote "Wine, Oh Wine." A solid document of Viklicky's Bratislava Jazz Days set, 'O1 is well worth searching for.

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