Karel Velebny: The Uhu Sleeps Only During The Day


The Uhu Sleeps Only During The Day


Karel Velebny (tenor sax, bass clarinet, vibes)


SHQ (ESP 1080)

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Karel Velebny (tenor sax, bass clarinet, vibes),

Jiri Stivin (alto sax, flute, recorder), Ludek Svabensky (piano), Karel Vejvoda (bass), Josef Vejvoda (drums)


Composed by Karel Velebny


Recorded: Germany, 1968


Rating: 87/100 (learn more)

Coming from a somewhat obscure multi-instrumentalist and composer from Communist Czechoslovakia, SHQ is challenging jazz but for the most part, isn't free. One exception is "The Uhu Sleeps Only During The Day." A rootless piece that's seemingly trying to find a root, the searching aspect becomes the song. As Velebny's vibes combine with Stivin's flute, it becomes impossible to ignore the ghost of Eric Dolphy's "Out to Lunch." Svabensky and Stivin eventually battle for space and Karel Vejvoda's temporarily bowed bass adds a creepy undertow. Velebny reasserts control with a flurry of mallets before the band downshifts the tempo at the end to restate the loping theme of the beginning.

The term "free jazz" typically has meaning in the musical context only. In light of the Prague Spring and subsequent Soviet invasion that transpired around the time of SHQ, there's a political context here as well. "The Uhu Sleeps Only During The Day" was as unrestrained as Velebny himself yearned to be.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron

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