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CD Review: Lukas Vesely – Peace Prayer
By Francesco Emmanuel - 09/28/2006 - 11:02 AM EDT

Artist: Lukas Vesely
Album: Peace Prayer
CD Review: Accomplished jazz bassist, singer, composer Lukas Vesely has debuted with his album ‘Peace Prayer’. It is a record rooted in what I’d like to call the ‘essence of jazz’ – dynamics and improvisation.

Lukas was born in Czech Republic and came to the US at the age of three, he started playing piano at the age of six, and has been involved in music ever since. In school he started his own band playing pop rock covers. In 1991 he started playing string bass and went over to Europe that year where he performed at the infamous Montreux and North Sea Jazz Festivals. At the end of high-school he received a full-tuition scholarship to Berklee College of Music; he soon became a faculty member at the Stanford Jazz Workshop. At 27 he is a free-lance bassist/pop-jazz vocalist who has a great sense of composing and arranging.

Now, I’m pretty sure that the record was well rehearsed, but the vibe of this record gives the impression that the musicians present here had tons of fun just feeding off each others’ playing. So, perhaps some parts were improvised, maybe not, nevertheless attention was paid to every little musical note, every brush stroke and horn line, it’s all in sync.

The songs have a lot of ‘breathing space’; the instruments seem to flow in and out of each other, it’s layered in such a way that at no point is there overcrowding or overplaying, a skill only seasoned musicians can master.

Most songs were written and arranged by Lukas Vesely except ‘Round Trip’ (which is an insane whirlwind of notes, modes, scales and dynamics – I mean everyone does their ‘thing’ here, a couple minutes in the spotlight each, after all, it is only 17 minutes!!!), ‘Body and Soul’ (with its cool and skippy piano solo intermingled with Vesely’s soft croon) and ‘You’re driving me crazy’ (the main melody line here is Vesely’s voice, and then comes a husky trombone).

The horn section on this record is superb, Dan Magay on Alto Sax, Scott Peterson on Tenor & Soprano sax, Johnathan Lagunte on Tenor Sax and Danny Grewen on Trombone. Check out the lines in ‘Eastern Sea Part 1 and 2’. ‘Dan’s Journey’ also has a blazing sax solo.

Piano is played by Adam Shulman, and piano and Rhodes by Sam Grobe-Heinz. ‘V Nebi’ (interesting song titles I must say) has a sparse piano line that carries through the song. ‘Peace Prayer’- the last song on the record has a spiraling piano solo, after which an upright bass solo ensues.

The job of keeping time and dynamics is shared between Brian Fischler and Jaz Sawyer. ‘Man-Dude’ brings this out in full force, excellent timing, grace notes, fills, off beats – you name it.

I’ve just realized that this is the second great jazz album I’ve received from someone hailing from the San Francisco Bay area. So, it may be fair to say that jazz artists from the Bay area certainly have their chops in order.

Currently, Lukas is playing with a West-Coast based East-Coast style swing band (try saying that 10 times fast) called Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums. From the list of talented musicians who have graced Lukas’s first effort, I can only imagine what greatness lies ahead for this talented jazz musician.


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