By: Edward Blanco

Legendary Bop pianist Barry Harris once cited Larry Vuckovich as “one of the premier West Coast pianist” in the jazz world today. On this new release, Vuckovich pays tribute to the classic Blue Note label bringing back the soulful swing jazz that made its recordings so historic. Somethin’ Special is an appropriate title for it does present jazz specials from such masters as Horace Silver, Tadd Dameron, Thelonious Monk, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Dexter Gordon, Hoagy Carmichael and Sonny Clark.
Making the recording even more special, is the hand-picked personnel that include classic tenor man Scott Hamilton, Noel Jewkes on tenor and soprano, Detroit-area bassist Paul Keller and New York drummer Chuck McPherson which, together make one swinging quintet perfect for the interpretation of music from legends. Sonny Clark’s title track introduces the music featuring a superb Keller solo, the two-sax attack and excellent piano lines from the classically-trained leader. Horace Silver is one of Vuckovich’s favorite pianists and here, the pianist provides a unique Latin-tinged rendition of Silver’s classic “Enchantment.”

The Jack Lawrence rare ballad standard “What Will I Tell My Heart” is taken to the heart by Hamilton’s wonderful tenor solo—slow, delicate and beautiful. Saxophonist Jewkes takes center stage on Dameron’s “Soultrane” originally written for John Coltrane. The pianist reprises the role of the great Antonio Carlos Jobim on his immortal “How Insensitive,” and does the same with a solo performance in a Thelonious Monk impersonation on “Pannonica.”

Dexter Gordon’s signature “Cheese Cake” proves to be the most ambitious tune on the album clocking in at over nine-minutes in length. The pianist—eventually to be a master in his own right—also includes a couple of originals with “Loving Linda” and “Zeljko’s Blues” ending a stellar session of bop style classic jazz performing another solo drenched in more classical than jazz harmonies on Carmichael’s familiar “Star Dust.” Somethin’ Special is exactly that, a special recording of special music performed by special people led by an articulate and innovative jazz pianist that Larry Vuckovich clearly proves to be here.
Year: 2011 Label: Tetrachord Music Artist Web: