If there is a good thing about the new austere measures record companies are forcing on their jazz musicians these days it has to be the great small group jazz that’s being recorded. Except for smooth jazz, which is recorded for the most part one person at a time in individual basement studios, today’s jazz is full of inexpensive-to-record small groups - trios, quartets and quintets. Entering into this world is a new remarkable piano trio recording by Larry Vuckovich.
In the realm of piano trios a schism has developed between the young artists, who want to show off their vast harmonic language, and the old guard, who, in coming from the Bill Evans school, want to sit down and just play some good music. From this later category comes Street Scene, by the Bulkan-born and now West-Coast-residing pianist.
He, along with the great young bassist Larry Grenadier and veteran drummer Akira Tana, churn out a program of standards, along with a few Vuckovich originals, that are absolute masterpieces of form, style, rhythm, heart and ever-loving swing. From Vuckovich’s exquisite solo piano rendition of the Miles Davis credited but probably composed by Bill Evans "Blue In Green," through to the Latin-fired version of "As Time Goes By Mambo," to the carefully rendered "Come Rain Or Come Shine," these musicians remind us that jazz used to be music for enjoyment. There is a fire and compelling spirit within these tracks that captures the character of jazz better than recordings by bigger names in more expensive contexts.
Throughout the program Vuckovich swings like nobody’s business. Fleet of finger, nimble of harmonic turn, and supple in mental command, the veteran jazz artist whose lineage goes back to Mel Torme and Clark Terry shows that the best artists are not always the youngest. The support Grenadier and Tana provide is relaxed and compelling at the same time. It is truly nice to hear musicians listening to each other, and responding in kind. Two percussionists are added on a few numbers, and they are just as caring and respectful of the music as the trio. Added for their timbrel color and not gimmick, only masters like Hector Lugo and Vince Delgado could provide the ambient support they infuse into the proceedings. If you like piano trios, this recording is a sure fire hit.