Larry Vuckovich

Deja Vuk

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Intelligent, sensitive, and with superior technical skill, pianist Larry Vuckovich follows up his previous album Tres Palabras with another stunning display of solo piano virtuosity on Deja Vuk. He takes almost an hour to wend and wind his way through a program of four of his compositions and ten other tunes, most of the latter composed by other piano players. Vuckovich captures the delicacy and serenity that Billy Strayhorn wove into his melodies on "Flower Is a Lovesome Thing" and on another bloom from Strayhorn's fantastical musical garden, "Passion Flower." Taking on master of the bop 88s Bud Powell's "Dance of the Infidels," Vuckovich smooths it out a bit, making its rhythmic patterns less quirky than when heard in the hands of other bop-oriented pianists. Vuckovich works hard to avoid the ordinary, not for the sake of doing that, but to give a new perspective to pieces heard many times before. On "Caravan," he runs the gamut from boogie-woogie through a gavotte to the exotic. His own music reveals his Yugoslavian heritage, with snippets of music from the Balkans merged with American jazz forms, as on a ruminative Erroll Garner-sounding "Blues à la Red." Vuckovich's affinity for Latin music is realized with a couple of cuts. Of the two, "Historia de un Amor" -- although Mexican in origin -- has a flavor of the music of the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. Irrespective of the musical mood and style, Vuckovich's calmness never leaves him. There are no dazzling arpeggios and runs on this album, which would be out of character for the San Francisco-based musician. Even "Baby, Won't You Please Come Home," a tune normally played in an up tempo, is given a decorous set of clothes. Smarts, style, and serenity are the orders of the day on this very absorbing album. Recommended.

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