Miroslav Vitous: Bamboo Forest
Miroslav Vitous (bass)
Universal Syncopations (ECM 1863 B0001289-02)
Composed by Miroslav Vitous.
Recorded: Oslo, Norway, March 2003
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
The accomplished and imaginative bassist and Czech expatriate Miroslav Vitous was a moving force in the early annals of the fusion movement in the United States. As a teenager while still in Czechoslovakia, he was in The Junior Trio with future superstar Jan Hammer. In the U.S., he played with Chick Corea and Dave Holland and was a founding member of Weather Report. His prowess was already well established when he released a landmark fusion record, Infinite Search, in 1969. (Later, the album would re-released with minor changes but a new title, Mountain in the Clouds.) Despite Vitous's artistic and a certain amount of commercial success stateside, he decided to move back to Europe, and has spent most of his time teaching, composing and occasionally playing at jazz festivals.
In 2003, Vitous released Universal Syncopations, a reunion of sorts. Vitous's former leader Chick Corea and Infinite Search cohorts John McLaughlin and Jack DeJohnette make appearances. Saxophonist Jan Garbarek, the featured soloist on "Bamboo Forest," was also an important past collaborator. "Bamboo Forest" is a beautiful ballad. Vitous and DeJohnette expertly handle the upbeat rhythm. Vitous's sound is a studied full and deep reverberation against fine wood. Garbarek's playing is light but meaningful. Vitous shows off some prodigious chops and expert timekeeping during a solo turn. Garbarek continues to flutter away. This is nothing like fusion or progressive jazz. It is just good modern jazz with a flowing melody played by three very knowing musicians.
Reviewer's Note: Vitous and his old friend and Czech mate Jan Hammer have both written tunes named "Bamboo Forest." My cursory research seems to find no bamboo forest in Czechoslovakia to write about. Is this a coincidence or collusion? This should be investigated.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky