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Miroslav Vitous : Universal Syncopations II

Miroslav Vitous

First of all, the title is something of a misnomer. Presumably a sequel to 2003’s Universal Syncopations, this tightly executed, meticulously orchestrated project bears little resemblance to its more open-ended, interactive and spontaneous predecessor. Plus, the title Universal Syncopations II suggests a return of the same all-star cast of Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin and Jack DeJohnette, none of whom appear on this new project (recorded between November 2004 and April 2005 at Miroslav’s Universal Syncopations Studios).

This is not intended to diminish this highly ambitious outing, which features a core group of Randy Brecker on trumpet, Bob Mintzer on tenor sax and bass clarinet, Gary Campbell on soprano sax and Gerald Cleaver on drums. Indeed, the music here is deep, brilliant and imbued with a grandiose sweep, as on the extended opener “Opera,” which bears some of the same exacting, chamber-like quality as Frank Zappa’s 1986 experiment Jazz From Hell. While Universal Syncopations II may not be nearly as retentive as that Synclavier-generated outing, it stands as an imposing manifesto by principal auteur Vitous, who is also listed as composer, archiver, arranger, director, producer and recording engineer.

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