MIROSLAV VITOUS — Infinite Search (aka Mountain In The Clouds aka The Bass)

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MIROSLAV VITOUS - Infinite Search (aka Mountain In The Clouds aka The Bass) cover
3.32 | 12 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1970

Filed under Fusion


A1 Freedom Jazz Dance 10:54
A2 Mountain In The Clouds 1:51
A3 When Face Gets Pale 7:38
B1 Infinite Search 6:49
B2 I Will Tell Him On You 11:00
B3 Epilogue 6:57

"Mountain In The Clouds" version contains additional track:
A4 Cérečka 2:42

Total Time: 47:23


Miroslav Vitous / bass
Joe Henderson / tenor saxophone
Mahavishnu John McLaughlin / guitar
Herbie Hancock / electric piano
Jack DeJohnette / drums
Joe Chambers / drums

About this release

Embryo Records – SD 524 (US)

Released in Spain same year as "Mountain In The Clouds"(Atlantic ‎– HATS 421-196) and in Germany as "The Bass" (1972,Hör Zu Black Label/Atlantic – ATL 30 024)

Recorded at the A & R Sudios, N.Y. in November 1969

Thanks to snobb, Chicapah for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Bassist and composer Miroslav Vitous (originally - Vitouš)is beside of keyboardist Jan Hammer most significant Czech jazz artist of last four decades. US-based from 1966,his first recording (as collaborator) was almost classic Chick Corea's "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs", from 1968 to 1970 he played as Herbie Mann's band bassist.

Recorded in New York in fall 1969 (and Herbie Mann's produced) his debut solo album is good example of progressive fusion atmosphere of that time and place.Musicians participated on these recordings all are future stars including (still "Mahavishnu") John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, sax player Joe Henderson and second drummer Joe Chambers. An year later Vitous will co-found unique guitar-less fusion band Weather Report, and what is recorded on "Infinite Search" could be counted as blueprint of his future fusion vision.

Five of six compositions are Vitous originals (probably here lays main album's problem for many listeners - from here for years his compositions are very often too bulky,open-ended and frame-less and as a result often sound unfinished). This album could be hardly evaluated out of time and place, and to say truth it sounds more interesting than great. Open ear listener can find here some ideas which later will be developed not only by Weather Report, but in Hancock's and McLaughlin fusion recordings as well.

Almost unnoticed at the time of release, this album was re-released on the wave of fusion popularity by major label just two years later (under the new title "Mountain In The Clouds", Atlantic,1972, with one additional song),but never received big success. Vitous himself being one major name in world fusion movement never was very successful with his solo releases as well. Often counted as Vitous most important solo release, "Infinite Search" is valuable evidence of fusion early years, it's significant Vitous will return to its spirit (partially with same collaborators) on his 2003 album "Universal Syncopations" after more than three decades.
This is one of those albums that I took home for all the righteous reasons but upon hearing it soon realized that this kind of eclectic, advanced jazz music was (and still is) way over my head. “So how’d you come to own a copy?” you might ask. Here’s my story and I’m sticking with it. I had become enamored with Weather Report’s “Sweetnighter” record and thought that, since it struck such a resonating chord in me, perhaps I was ready to sample what their incredible bassist, Miroslav Vitous, had been up to previously. I was mistaken. I was nowhere near being in the vicinity of ready. But I didn’t know that when I spotted this LP in the record store on that day in ‘73 and I wrongly figured I was being smugly adventurous and daring in buying it. The joke was on me. The sounds Miroslav manufactures on “Mountain in the Clouds” bear very little resemblance to what he’d been a part of with Weather Report. I’ll admit right up front that I’m in no position to judge the quality of the musicianship that’s necessary to pull off these songs. In fact, I haven’t a doubt that the performances are top notch all around. But in the same way I greatly admire those who can easily master advanced calculus or quantum physics it’s a moot point. Those mathematical realms mean nothing to me. That’s how I feel about this brand of fusion. I just don’t get it. However, I can offer a review based on whether or not it moves me, stimulates my heart or intrigues my imagination. For example, while quite a bit of Picasso’s cubist art befuddles me on the surface level, he still manages to touch my soul with those paintings in a way that I can’t express in words. So an artist’s unfathomable ability doesn’t preclude my being deeply affected by his/her work on a higher plane of consciousness. Unfortunately for me, that spiritual connection has yet to happen with this album no matter how many times I sit and concentrate on the music it contains.

I wasn’t exactly repulsed by the impressive list of helpers he’d enlisted for this project. Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin and Joe Henderson were all familiar names in my jazz vocabulary. The deciding factor (as I was weighing the pros and cons of spending my limited funds on this disc) was the inclusion of Eddie Harris’ fascinating “Freedom Jazz Dance” tune. I adore the excellent version Brian Auger recorded with his Oblivion Express group so I was intensely curious as to what sort of spin these fellas had put on one of my favorite jazz numbers. Since nothing else in the store tickled my fickle fancy that afternoon, I parted ways with most of my weekly entertainment budget and, as always, hoped that it would knock my gym socks off when I got it on my turntable.

The cool song I mentioned is the first cut. The tune’s catchy but complex central melody is recognizable but beyond that this is the equivalent of musical rocket science to me. Vitous scats all over his upright acoustic bass like a maniac as the rest of the crew create mayhem on the periphery. I can tell they’re all staying in the same key but that’s about it. Hancock and McLaughlin play ferociously during their respective rides and I dig their skills but Jack DeJohnette sounds like he’s performing a non-stop drum solo from start to finish. Henderson’s saxophone lead is the only thing I can loosely latch onto. “Mountain in the Clouds” has a nifty speed-of-light tempo but I don’t hear a melody. I guess when it’s only populated by bass and drums that’s asking too much. “Epilogue” follows. Miroslav and Herbie compliment each other during the peaceful intro before drummer Joe Chambers joins them with some light, semi-rhythmic patterns but the track remains airy and undefined. I detect a vague chord structure but it doesn’t satisfy my insatiable hunger for melodic phrases. “Cerecka” is next but it’s extremely weird avant garde stuff and I find it impossible to enjoy any aspect of this noisy cacophony. It disturbs me.

“Infinite Search” is quieter yet no less alien to my ears and the microscopic brain they’re attached to. Vitous takes the reins here but he fails to lead me anywhere exciting. Hancock’s piano offerings make more sense although I’m mystified as to why McLaughlin is being limited to repeating the same two notes throughout. “I Will Tell Him On You” has a melody line but it’s very odd and doesn’t hang around for long as they dive once again into the “crazy jazz” zone that makes me feel like an imbecile for not being able to savvy what they’re doing. It’s probably really good! I’m not entirely put off by Henderson’s tenor sax tone so I figure that’s something. John puts on display some of the electrified wildness on his fretboard that will characterize what he'll bring under control and feature in The Mahavishnu Orchestra a few years later (this was taped in ’69). DeJohnette gets his moment in the spotlight but it’s indistinguishable from the arrhythmic racket he generates most of the time in the background anyway. After eleven minutes the song dies a painful death. “When Face Gets Pale” is the closer but by this juncture I’m so lost that up is down and in is out. Miroslav sets the pace once again but for what purpose I haven’t a clue. The interesting thing is that all the musicians seem to know precisely what they’re up to so I’m certain I’m the one stranded in the jungle, not them. I gather that there’s a method to their madness but it’s too strange for my unrefined jazz tastes. I’ll leave it at that.

I’m sure that many sane jazzers find immense pleasure in immersing themselves in this sort of convoluted, enigmatic and perplexing tapestry of sounds and I have nothing but envy for them. I wish I could comprehend what these talented guys were constructing with their aural sculptures. I know they wouldn’t waste their time making musical mud pies just for grins and I’d love to be privy to their brand of genius. Alas, it ain’t meant to be for this Dallas cowboy so I’ll just have to stick with the likes of Weather Report and Return to Forever for my fusion fixes. If you crave the bizarre side of jazz then you’ll get lots of bangs for your bucks out of “Mountain in the Clouds.” If you’re like me then take my advice. You’d best spend your money on a Dave Brubeck album. You’ll have a lot more fun.

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