MIROSLAV VITOUS — Universal Syncopations (review)

MIROSLAV VITOUS — Universal Syncopations album cover Album · 2003 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Steve Wyzard
NOT WHAT YOU WANTED

Let me begin by saying this is a very good album and worthy addition to your Miroslav Vitous collection. That being said, it also needs to immediately follow that this is NOT an early-1970s throwback album. Fusion fans must have foamed at the mouth when this was originally released and they scanned the line-up of musicians. So what do we actually have here?

Only 2 of the 5 names appearing on the front cover play on all 9 tracks: Miroslav Vitous (bass), and Jack DeJohnette (drums). Both of their performances throughout are outstanding, with "Medium" being a viciously driving duet. John McLaughlin, in only his second appearance on the ECM label, appears on only 2 tracks: "Univoyage" and "Faith Run". His understated contribution to the latter is much more substantial than that on the former, and on both songs, he only plays acoustic guitar. Chick Corea (piano) performs on 3 tracks: "Univoyage", "Sun Flower", and "Miro Bop". Jan Garbarek (tenor sax) plays on 7 of the 9 tracks (with 2 co-composing credits), making this album much closer to a trio album with special guests than a quintet album. "Bamboo Forest", "Beethoven", and "Brazil Waves" feature only the trio. The 5 players, in fact, only appear together on "Univoyage".

The most controversial aspect of this album is the inclusion of a brass trio (trumpet/flugelhorn/trombone) on "Univoyage", "Tramp Blues", and "Faith Run". This ensemble adds light background touches and sound effects here and there, and a punctuation phrase every now and then. These contributions don't ruin the album or overly clutter the sound, but one wonders why they are there at all.

So if you were looking for a 21st Century Mahavishnu, composed and recorded 30 years after their glory days, you've come to the wrong place. Universal Syncopations is one of those albums that will always live in the shadow of what it could have been, and what listeners may have been expecting from these players. Which is a shame, because it's still a very good Miroslav Vitous album, in spite of who is and isn't playing.

Share this review

Review Comments

Post a public comment below | Send private message to the reviewer
Please login to post a shout
No shouts posted yet. Be the first member to do so above!

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
MILES DAVIS
Buy this album from our partners
A Love Supreme Post Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Progressive Big Band
CHARLES MINGUS
Buy this album from our partners
Blue Train Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners
My Favorite Things Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners

New Jazz Artists

New Jazz Releases

Jan Levander - Portrait of Bohuslan Big Band Big Band
BOHUSLÄN BIG BAND
Buy this album from MMA partners
Live in Austria Post Bop
KLEMENS MARKTL
Buy this album from MMA partners
How Does Christmas Sound? Pop/Art Song/Folk
KIRK WHALUM
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Jazz Online Videos

Monsters' Impromptu
LEE HEERSPINK
js· 20 hours ago
As Is - O Holy Night - Music Lyric Video
AS IS (ALAN AND STACEY SCHULMAN)
js· 1 day ago
Trite Pati
ZHIVKO VASILEV
js· 1 day ago
Vibranium
JAN PRAX
js· 2 days ago
Comodo Dragon
MANUEL DUNKEL
js· 2 days ago
More videos

New JMA Jazz Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions

More...

Latest Jazz News

members-submitted

More in the forums

Social Media

Follow us