Larry Vuckovich

The Good Old Days Are Right Now

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The recording career of this San Francisco pianist has been consistently engaging, primarily of appeal to listeners who like their jazz airplanes to land on the Charlie Parker or Coleman Hawkins runway. In other words, Larry Vuckovich lovingly embraces the past, one vital aspect of which has been seeking out older players on the San Francisco jazz scene to take part in his ensembles. It is this aspect that makes this album especially important in the years following its release. It is one of the final recordings of the wonderful blind clarinetist Vince Cattolica, whose playing comes with the endorsement of none other than Benny Goodman. The king of swing liked Cattolica so much he apparently turned over one of his choice clarinets to the man -- maybe this is even the instrument that is heard on this early-'90s quintet date. The fine trumpeter Allen Smith is the clarinetist's foil in the horn lineup, while drummer John Markham and bassist Al Obidinski fill out the rhythm section. Vuckovich is absolutely no slouch in his approach to any of the selections featured -- it is no surprise that the Yugoslavian emigre has so clearly defined himself as one of San Francisco's most original denizens of classic jazz, a position he began establishing in the early '80s with recordings such as Blue Balkan on the Inner City label.