If you have been a long time follower of jazz and jazz-fusion, Miroslav Vitous will be a familiar name to you. The legendary bassist has made quite a career for himself since the last '60s, performing and recording with the likes of Weather Report, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Larry Coryell, Jan Garbarek, Jack DeJohnette, Stan Getz, Herbie Mann, Terje Rypdal, and many others. In addition, the 69 year old has had a fruitful solo career as well, and this live concert recorded in 2016 in Germany features his current solo band that includes Gary Campbell (tenor saxophone), Robert Bonisolo (tenor & soprano saxophone), Aydin Esen (keyboards), and Roberto Gatto (drums), the latest entry in the European Jazz Legends from Intuition.
There are few players in jazz history who can make the stand-up bass sound quite like Vitous, and his remarkable tones and textures are running rampant throughout Ziljabu Nights. The epic near 17-minute "Morning Lake" sees the bassist utilizing various effects and wah-wah as his melodic lines weave in and out of soaring sax and gorgeous keyboard washes, while the atmospheric title track sees Vitous opt for the bow, resulting in a sort of classical feel but with the wah-wah that 'rock' underpinning is still there, the rest of the band laying down some sizzling vintage jazz. "Ziljabe" is more quirky, with wispy sax fluttering and battling in and out of the mix, Vitous and Gatto busy with intense rhythms and Esen snaking out with some daring flights of fancy. The bassist is all on his own for the jaw dropping "Gloria's Step Variations", a perfect example of not only his flawless technique but also his sense of melody, and the rest of the band come back out for a rousing "Miro Bob", a complex, old school jazz romp that again sees the leader churning out some incredible wah-wah drenched bowed excursions amid a miasma of sax explosions. The bands take on the classic "Stella By Starlight Variations" is well done, as they give plenty of love to this jazz staple but inject their own stamp into it, Esen's tasty electric piano and Vious' nimble lines being the highlight.
The live set is completed by an interview with Vitous where he talks about various points of his career, and is an informative listen. All in all, this is a thrilling live set from one of the most unique & important jazz bassists the genre has ever seen. Great to see him still going out there and delivering the goods in a big way!
1) Ziljabu (9:31)
2) Morning Lake (16:43)
3) Ziljabe (5:18)
4) Gloria's Step Variations (5:41)
5) Miro Bop (10:01)
6) Stella By Starlight Variations (13:36)
7) Interview with Miroslav Vitous (7:35)