Review / Free and flowing night of brilliant jazz

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Czech pianist Emil Viklicky, trumpeter Miroslav Bukovsky and John Mackey on saxophone at the Drill Hall Gallery last night. Photo by Rob Kennedy

CELEBRATED throughout Europe and well-known in the US and Asia, visiting Czech pianist Emil Viklicky was joined by trumpeter Miroslav Bukovsky and John Mackey on saxophone for an evening of jazz at the ANU Drill Hall Gallery.

Listening to these three musicians, who are so in touch with not only their instruments but the style, can send a listener into zones of relaxation, calm, joy and excitement, and isn’t that what music is all about?

Surrounded by a spectacular array of large-scale Western Desert paintings in the Drill Hall Gallery, the sound the musicians created added to the colourful atmosphere.

Emil Viklicky’s knowledge and ability is extraordinary. He sits close to the piano and uses his body to push into the keyboard and the sustain pedal barely gets touched, which adds to the bright tones he creates. His playing is more about intuition and feel over a technical ability and along with his at times, loud foot tapping makes his music exceptional.

The trumpet is a favourite instrument of this reviewer, and after two years of practice it was apparent that it was never going to take, so hearing the trumpet in the hands of Miroslav Bukovsky with his clear unencumbered voice and accurate tones make me glad I gave it up to leave it to people like Bukovsky who have a real feel for the quality of its tone.

John Mackey on saxophone, while at times reading from a score, as were all three, improvises and accentuates the music with a unique style and makes each piece his own, even if he hasn’t written it. The mellow velvety tones he crafted in the echoey space cut through with an earthy connection. His quick passages flow seamlessly from his fingers and breathing.

Viklicky who is inspired by Moravian and other Slavic folk music falls into the same vein as Leoš Janá?ek, so it is only natural that Viklicky would transcribe Janá?ek’s famous five-part “Sinfonietta”. Whether this was a jazz-classical piece or a classical jazz piece, either way, it worked. Its underlying modern style blends well with the sound of jazz. It slipped between “classical” and jazz styles impeccably. The solos were well poised and placed, which made it a stylish arrangement.

Beginning darkly on piano, Bukovsky’s piece which he said was, “a sort of requiem for Miles Davis”, spoke clearly of Davis in a sultry way. The low to high note transitions on trumpet hit exactly where they should, and the music created an image that seemed to sing Mi-les.

A brighter and quicker piece was the last work scheduled for the night, which was an adaption of a Moravian men’s choir piece. While the score was keenly watched by the players it still sounded like free and flowing jazz as did the jumping encore.

This is music that should be heard, but, you can’t escape feeling it.

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