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Miroslav Vitous: Universal Syncopations

The least famous participant in Universal Syncopations is the leader, bassist Miroslav Vitous. The other players are among the most prominent in the world on their respective instruments: Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, John McLaughlin and Jan Garbarek. The album was recorded over a two-year period in two different studios and then assembled by Vitous, producer Manfred Eicher and engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug. This process may explain why the sonic quality is not quite up to ECM’s high standards.

Despite the presence of such strong, distinctive personalities, Universal Syncopations is undeniably a Miroslav Vitous album, unified by his individual vision. The foundation is a transcendental hook-up between Vitous and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Neither keeps time. Instead, they whirl and fidget and throb and shower sparks of energy and create powerful updrafts that carry this music aloft. Vitous wrote or cowrote all nine tunes, which contain gently persistent hooks of provocative ideas within wide-open vistas.

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