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Blue Balkan -- Then & Now by Larry Vuckovich

West Coast piano giant Larry Vuckovich morphs a potpourri of Balkan motifs into a modern mainstream musical environment, throughout most of this 2002 reissued gem originally released on LP in 1981. Interspersed with material recorded in 2001, the program features vibist/marimba giant Bobby Hutcherson performing on the 1980 recording dates, and marimba artist Tommy Kesecker who appears on the 2001 tracks. Ultimately, the music is enacted with various shifts in personnel and stands as a landmark outing. Comprised of wondrously attractive unison runs with violinist Eric Golub, Hutcherson and the leader, the music is based-upon budding movements and lyrically-rich harmonic developments. On "Blue Balkan (1980)," the band executes a medium-tempo jazz waltz, enamored by the soloists’ Balkan-tinged, whirlwind choruses during the bridge. Then on "Suite Sanna (2001)," Vuckovich leads a quartet through toe-tapping swing groove, firmed up by bassist Jeff Chamber’s sinuously rendered, walking bass maneuvers.

The piece titled "After Hours (1980)," is deeply entrenched in classic blues forms, where Vukovich implements delicate twirls amid a Mississippi Delta gait. In essence, the alternating sequence of tracks, spanning twenty-years seems uncannily seamless in scope, given the twenty-one year gap. With the composition "In Your Own Sweet Way (1980)," Hutcherson’s vibes work communicates intimate balladry, sparked with ethereal overtones as the preponderance of this endeavor offers spiking arrangements, enamored with endearing melodic hooks. In spots, Golub, Hutcherson and Vukovich whip matters into a lushly articulated frenzy, aided by spiraling motifs and heated soloing excursions. (Strongly recommended.... )

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Larry Vuckovich
  • CD Title: Blue Balkan -- Then & Now
  • Genre: Various Jazz Styles
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Reissue Original Release: 1981
  • Record Label: Tetrachord Music
  • Rating: Five Stars
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