Born: December 8, 1936 Primary Instrument: Piano
Yugoslavian-born, West Coast based jazz pianist Larry Vuckovich has recorded two highly successful CDs celebrating the film noir genre. His current CD, High Wall: Real Life Film Noir (2008), and Street Scene (2006), both recorded on his Tetrachord Music label, have placed in the Top 10 of the national JazzWeek charts. Street Scene hit #1 on XM Satellite Radio for six weeks. His interview with Marian McPartland on her Piano Jazz show was heard in May 2008 on NPR affiliated stations. The show was recorded during his successful 2007 East Coast tour that included a concert at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club Coca Cola and marked his first return there since her lived and performed there from 1985 to 1990.
A highly versatile jazz pianist, Larry has performed with top musicians from various jazz influences, including Anita O'Day, Joe Williams, Helen Humes, Cab Calloway, Red Norvo, Don Byas, Charlie Haden, Bobby Hutcherson, Larry Grenadier, Tom Harrell, and Charles McPherson. Accompanist for vocalist/ lyricist Jon Hendricks for many years, Larry has appeared at major festivals and clubs in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
While in Europe, Larry met and toured with Dexter Gordon and Philly Joe Jones. In the late '60s, he led the house trio for one of Germany's top jazz clubs, The Domicile, in Munich, where he backed such greats as Slide Hampton, Lucky Thompson, Pony Poindexter and Clifford Jordan. He returned to San Francisco and became house pianist at the famous Keystone Korner from 1978 until its closing in 1983, working with Arnett Cobb, Buddy Tate, Charles McPherson, Leon Thomas, and Eddie Cleanhead Vinson.
Larry moved to New York in the 1980s. He appeared at major jazz clubs, including Village Vanguard, Blue Note, Bradley's, Zinno's, West End, and Hanratty's, working with Billy Higgins, Cecil Payne, Al Cohn, Curtis Fuller, Milt Hinton, and Mel Lewis and received top reviews from the New York Times, the Village Voice and The New Yorker. Gary Giddins in the Village Voice said he has a book of piano gems that will keep you guessing. Jon S. Wilson of the New York Times praised Larry for bringing with him an outlook and a collection of influences that set him apart from most pianists who are heard regularly in New York.
Larry now lives in Calistoga, in the wine country north of San Francisco with his wife and co-producer, singer-percussionist Sanna Craig. His son Alexi Vuckovich, is a classical piano student at San Francisco State University and his step-son is guitarist and recording artist Josh Workman. He performs and records on his Tetrachord Music label with a variety of combos, including the Young at Heart band and the Blue Balkan ensemble (whose CD was selected among the top jazz CDs for 2002 by Gary Giddins in the Village Voice.) He currently performs at Yoshi's, Jazz at Pearl's, The Bach, all in the San Francisco Bay Area. He also performs in Napa Valley at Copia wine and arts cultural center, Napa Valley Opera House, and was named a Jazz Ambassador of Good Will for the newly renovated 1,200-seat Lincoln Center premier performing arts center in July 2008.
Awards:Larry Vuckovich Day in San Francisco, December 8, 2006
A MONSTER of a player who should be much more well known. (High Wall: Real Life Film Noir) is one of his best recordings to date Gary Walker-Music Director and Morning Host of WBGO NJ/NY
... any discussion of the best jazz piano players in the world must now include Larry Vuckovich! Brad Stone-Music Director and on air host KSJS-San Jose, CA
... soars to new heights -Reese Erlich,Public Radio
High Wall is of strong interest from start to finish. Highly recommended. 4 1/2 Stars -Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
...a classy jazz piano date...elegant and earthy with a surprising amount of funk...a real winning date. -Chris Spector, Midwest Record
A gorgeous follow-up to Vuckovich's critically acclaimed 2006 CD, Street Scene..there is no holding back on this disc.. -Tom Henry, The Toledo Blade
:The musical cohesion is truly something special...Vuckovich also works through Coltrane's blazing hot Locomotion -Jordan Richardson, BC Music
STREET SCENE (Tetrachord Music, 2006)
...a pianist whose evocative touch and poetic (but unsentimental) sensibility convey the wisdom of deep musical life experience -Thomas Conrad, Jazztimes.com
“… he creates an earthy post-bop style of richly varied improvisational expression.” - Jazz Podium (Germany)
A true musician's musician...originality, elegance, dexterity and most of all...great sense of swing, time, space and phrasing. For those who are keen on a superior jazz trio, Street Scene is highly recommended. -Gilbert Mathieu, Jazz Improv
Larry's creative flow is always purely of the present moment...a true delight for the ears, heart and mind. -Pianist, Benny Green
A beautiful CD...Larry's vision and musicality come at you from a slightly different angle. -Alto saxophonist, Charles McPherson
...impressive range of arranging and improvisational skills -Mark Holston, Jazziz
...masterpieces of form, style, rhythm, heart, and ever loving swing. There is a fire and compelling spirit within these tracks that captures the character of jazz better than recordings by bigger names in more expensive contexts. -Thomas R. Erdmann, Jazzreview.com
Street Scene has reached the #1 Spot on XM Satellite Radio.
Street Scene has reached the #10 spot on the 'JazzWeek' radio charts.
For lovers of piano trios, this album is a must...all tracks on this impeccable recording are highly recommended -Ed Trefzger, Jazzweek JazzWeek.com
One of his finest showcases...swinging, boppish and inventive -Scott Yanow, AMG Allmusicguide.com
He adorns (his ballads) with lustrous harmonies and decorates with runs that lace through his chords like bright ribbons -DownBeat
heartfelt exuberance...lovely piano work...fervent solos...digs deep into the pocket... drenched in the blues...emotive reading of Miles Davis' Blue in Green... high level of musicianship...features the pianist's broad range -Mark F. Turner, allaboutjazz.com
BLUE BALKAN and BLUE BALKAN: THEN & NOW (Tetrachord Music, 2002)
Included in Gary Giddins' Best Jazz CDs of 2002 list, Village Voice.
Drawing from his ethnic background as well as his blues roots, pianist Larry Vuckovich makes a warm and rich statement with Blue Balkan. 4 1/2 Stars --Down Beat, October 1981
most convincing, most intergrated combinations ever of ethnic music and straight ahead Jazz. --Cadence, June 1981
...ahead of its time...intriguing, fresh-sounding jazz.... --Cadence, June 2002
Vuckovich has mixed his idioms with skill and is aided in no small measure by Bobby Hutcherson on marimba and vibes, Erik Golub on viola and violin. --Leonard Feather, L.A. Times 1981
Prefiguring the much-lauded work of Dave Douglas and even John Zorn ... modern context ... angular, cubist, post-bop compositions ... the gypsy-style melodies, authentically believeable on their own work effortlessly --Matt Collar, AllMusicGuide.com 2002
hailed for its diverse talent and global influences ... re-released with new music ... global jam session ... Vuckovich can swing hard ... killer blues --Mark F. Turner, Allaboutjazz.com 2002
REUNION with Jon Hendricks (Tetrachord Music, 2004)
REUNION has reached the #24 spot on the JazzWeek Charts. ...Vuckovich authentically demonstrates the essence of world-class swing... ...his piano is simply elegant and masterful... Reunion is a double treat for those looking for jazz and vocals that speak of a great era of music that is still in tune today. --Mark F. Turner AllAboutJazz.com (link to full review)
Larry Vuckovich, who sounds perfectly at home in all of these settings, has suceeded in recording one of his best all-round sets --Scott Yanow Cadence 2004
Vuckovich's reunion with Hendricks is destined for classic status, an elixir CD that anyone interested in staying around for a while should own --Bob Gish Jazz Improv Magazine
We were half way into the first track Lester Leaps In, and we knew we were on to something special... A session of classic joyful jazz 5 Stars --Oscar Groomes O's Place
YOUNG AT HEART
It's so refreshing to find out that music is still so beautiful. It sounds so nice. I'm happy to learn there are still people around that can play like this. - - Barry Harris, jazz pianist nonpareil
It's a superb CD. That album sounds like a bunch of the cats-Prez, Jo Jones, Buddy Tate, Basie, Walter Page, and Freddie Green played five shows at the Apollo and went down to the studio and made the album. Everybody sounds like the real thing, they're the real cats, and I'd be proud to play with them any day. The tenors sound authentic and beautiful. It has all the flavor and atmosphere of that music. - - Jon Hendricks, acclaimed jazz vocalist
One of the happier surprises of the Monterey Festival...exuberant swing... joy to hear...get this CD! - - Scott Yanow, jazz critic (read more..)
A heart felt tribute to Lester Young...this sextet sounds and swings like a big band,reminding me of Basie's Kansas City Seven...this is a splendid disc... I warmly recommend this - -Michael Bailey, Allaboutjazz.com
Upon the first listening.one gets the immediate impression of hearing a swinging big band in action. A modern swing held firmly in place by a rhythm section that knows how to groove. - - Michael Handler, jazz critic, jazzwest.com
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Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
Clinic at IAJE Conference Discussing Styles of Various Bebop Pianists