Czechmate

Czechmate by Pavel Wlosok
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Pavel Wlosok

Label: New Port Line
Released: 2013
Duration: 65:59
Views: 302

Track Listing

1 Fragments (by Pavel Wlosok); 2 St. Hainesville (by Pavel Wlosok); 3 Natalia (by Pavel Wlosok); 4 Brooklyn Minute (by Pavel Wlosok); 5 Sadness Within (by Pavel Wlosok); 6 Czechmate (by Pavel Wlosok); 7 Sister Julie (by Joel Frahm).


Personnel

Additional Personnel / Information

Pavel Wlosok - piano, compositions; Steve Haines - acoustic bass; Bill Campbell - drums, Joel Frahm - tenor & soprano saxophones

Album Description

Sleeve notes writen by Czech's most known Jazz critics and experts, Dr. Lubomir Doruzka who died recently at the age of 93: Pavel Wlosok, pianist, composer, and educator, is a little bit older, than the large generation of today’s Czech Jazz 30-year olds. He was born in 1973 and first studied classical piano at Janacek Conservatory in Ostrava and in 1993 continued studying composition at Janacek Academy in Brno. In 1995 he left his homeland to continue his studies at the University of North Texas in Denton and the United States became his second home. He has had successful appointments at universities and musical academies in various parts of the USA as a performer composer and professor, who is able to venture between classical and jazz music with ease. This is by the way perhaps the best recipe to enable any jazz musician to develop a stronger and lasting position in the country where jazz first originated. The combination also allows an environment in which to be creative and financially independent, rather than trying to make a living only through solo or combo performances. On his jazz album entitled Czechmate, which was recorded and mixed in Western North Carolina and released on the Czech-American label Newportline, Pavel has an invited guest tenor and soprano saxophonist, Joel Frahm, who is about four years older than he is and who originally grew up in Wisconsin. During his high school studies, Joel was a classmate of Brad Mehldau and at the beginning of 21st Century received a Down Beat award as a “rising star”. His diversified way of playing features vibrant, original sound, which alternates Coltrane-like runs with lyrical passages, although quite personal is his innovative staccato approach even during faster and fluent passages. As a soloist he is the dominant performer on this album, highlighting the talent of Pavel Wlosok as a composer and the creator of this original project. The first track on this album Fragments is actually written in a classical format of theme and variations, which was composed in a retrograde style (back to front). The main theme appears at the very end of this piece and before it we hear five varied “paragraphs”, which serve as variations. Those variations however connect from one to the next so naturally, that the listener hears the piece as one fluent whole. The composition St. Hainesville, dedicated to the composer’s classmate and bassist Steve Haines, oscillates between minor and major sounding parts, and brings in an equal division of an octave concept (in this case three major thirds), first introduced by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. The listener will probably perceive this piece as a lighter rendition, although not quite scherzo, with the glimpse of a lighter and restful sounding mood. Natalia is the first of several compositions inspired by author’s personal experiences. It’s been dedicated to his 2nd daughter Natalia Michelle. This song is supposed to reflect a mood connected with a child’s innocence, tenderness, and purity. And this is precisely the role for Frahm’s gentle soprano saxophone sound. Wlosok had disclosed that he truly appreciated the way Frahm managed to capture this particular mood in his performance. Brooklyn Minute is yet again a colorful memory coming from a completely different experience. It reflects a trip to a more expressive area, which comes from ostinato-like forward moving rhythmic figures. This piece was inspired by the cooperation of the drummer Bill Campbell playing with Pavel. However, even in this piece the rhythmic passages are mixed up with more lyrical sections, just like our lives bring both poles to the table, and we simply can’t live without one or the other. Sadness Within again brings a contrasting, and dramatically different pole. The author’s effort here is to capture a mood, which as he says, touches the very bottom of our psychic powers. The author believes that all human beings face this exact situation from time to time. The piano solo in this track is probably the longest and also the most impressive. At first, Joel Frahm sensitively continues with the mood set forward by the pianist, only to explore it with his own variations and experiences. Moments of depression are being exchanged with those of exciting tightening. After the reminiscent and intoxicant atmosphere of Brooklyn, where life and living goes on at its fullest, it is yet another contrast, which our lives constantly have to face day in and day out. In the piece Czechmate, besides the second chess-like word “mate”, the word “Czech” plays an important dual role. The author considers this piece as a reflection of his momentary state of progress as a composer and performer, but also as his own view of today’s World. These are the inner feelings and emotions of personal discomfort with the way our World functions today. These feelings, due to various reasons, are experienced not only by today’s jazz musicians, but also all people of this planet, Czech as well as in the Americas. In a way, this composition is in part aggressive, but at the same time can’t offer any solution to the crisis for people living in today’s society. This motion however at least in part is fulfilled by the last track on this album, composed by Joel Frahm and entitled Sister Julie. It is overall quite positive music. Wlosok’s intention was to close out this album of various moods and feelings, which all of us encounter in our daily lives, with a belief, that just as our own lives continue on their paths, so does Jazz, which has been around for more than a Century. Jazz musicians in all parts of this World constantly work to improve of this concept, yet only a handful of them manage to do so with such conceptual and compositional clarity, as Pavel does.


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