It Is Not I Who Seek The Young Fool

From:  The Succulence Of Abstraction (MV015)




M I C H A E L  V L A T K O V I C H

Composer / Trombonist

...Vlatkovich is the finest trombonist improvising today.    Jazz Review

  • sideswipes & jumpstarts, Percolations & Tactics For Text & Trombone

    mv014  (2013)

    Available in CD format.


    TRACK 07

    Pandora's Bottle




    MV014 (CD) (2010)




    The people in the front are going to have a good time.

    The people in the back are going to have a good time too.


    Michael Vlatkovich – trombone / compositions

    Mark Weber – poems / reading




  • ART



    MV014 TRAY


    MV014 TRACKS a


    MV014 TRACKS b


    MV014 DISC

BEST OF 2012

Robert Bush

San Diego Reader

Trombonist Michael Vlatkovich tears it up on this blistering live set with Jonathan Golove on electric cello and the explosive Damon Short on drums.

  • Pershing Woman:

    Vlatkovich Tryyo

    CD071  (2012)

    Available in CD format.


    TRACK 09

    i let my magic

    tortoise go




    CD071 (CD) (2012)



    The people in the front are going to have a good time.

    The people in the back are going to have a good time too.


    Michael Vlatkovich – trombone / compositions

    Jonathan Golove - electric cello

    Damon Short - drums


      In ‘intimate’ musical settings, there seems to be little accounting for the power of a performance. Often, the special secrecy of an experience shared by just a handful of cognoscenti leads to legends, while on occasion a tiny turnout sparks just a distant, disaffected performance. On the recorded evidence here, both the audience and the Vlatkovich Trryo– probably equal in number – are on fine, fiery form; the latter working up a storm ex nihilo as though it were second nature, preserving the triumphant occasion (recorded in Grand Rapids, Michigan) for posterity on this disc.


    Doubtless owing in part to the history and pedigree of the three musicians present (Michael Vlatkovich on trombone, Jonathan Golove on cello and Damon Short on drums), the group appears resolved to deny admission to even a moment of silence: in Vlatkovich’s compositions, from the rip-roaring get-go, everything is event: the trombone firing tight, tethered phrases, deftly shadowed by Golove’s plucked cello, and underpinned by Short’s cymbals, which swing with the best – a meter he carries through much of the album. Sometimes soaring, though sometimes sober and even sombre, the group’s vibrant, full-bodied racket engulfs every inch of venue space. At its most upbeat, it bears traces of Henry Threadgill’s melodic exuberance; elsewhere some of Sun Ra’s more oblique, atonal colours enter the palette, especially when ties are loosened and fingers are freed.


    Despite the Tarkovskian cover photo depicting a woman’s silhouette striding through a foggy landscape (which might analogise the not-quite-crystalline recording fidelity), the mood of the music – mainly monochrome – is far rougher, more unrelenting than the doom jazz one might anticipate. At times, the darkness is so wintery one imagines doggedly ploughing through piles of metaphorical snow, being housebound by climatic inhospitality, or succumbing to Seasonal Affective Disorder in the more solemn, later tracks. On occasion, the joylessness smacks of intellectualism over emotion, a notion compounded by unwieldy track titles such as ‘Our Costumes Should Tell Us Who We Are And What We Should Think’, and a structural disinclination towards climax, which is usually nice after a long workout. These are minor gripes however, for anyone with a thirst for dynamic, driven performances will drink their fill here.



    Good Times with Michael Vlatkovich’s Tryyo

    Trombonist Michael Vlatkovich has an entertaining new live album, Pershing Woman, out with his “Tryyo,” Jonathan Golove on electric cello and Damon Short on drums. For jazz improvisation, it’s exceptionally tuneful, and funky, and fun, in an energetic post-AACM, Roscoe Mitchell way. Good humor and good times abound throughout this set, and it’s contagious. It’s all about interplay: conversations, pitch-and-follow, shadowing and dynamics. Vlatkovich’s sensibility is borne out in his titles: for example, the jaunty, swinging opening track, Our Costumes Should Tell Us Who We Are and What We Think. Obviously, this could be sarcastic…or is he saying that what we wear should illustrate who we are, and inspire us to ponder certain things?

    The second track, Pursued By More Past Than Future picks up the funky riffage and continues a series of variations, Golove alternating between resonant pizzicato basslines, sostenuto ambience, the occasional keening overtone or staccato flurry as Short shuffles and romps around the perimeter. His cymbal work throughout the album, whether creating nebulous, misty atmospherics or lithely accenting the quieter moments, is especially choice. Vlatkovich is the good cop here, playfully nudging the group upwards out of the lulls, firing off clusters of bluesy riffage, often adding a droll edge with a mute, or a quote, or the occasional woozy slidestep.

    The best track here is Black Triangles Yellow Corn and Pink Medicine Drops – chips and salsa requiring a hit of Pepto Bismol afterward, maybe? Golove opens it with a catchy funk bassline, Vlatkovich exploring tersely overhead, Short artfully building to a crescendo that he caps off with a triumphant flourish as they take it doublespeed and then back down again.

    The bouncy, syncopated Once in a Blue Moon a Decent Wolf Comes Along rides an unexpected Powerglide shift from Short into Hostages of Romance and its steady staccato. The Imponderable Hiding in Extra Large Clothing goes on for almost thirteen minutes and as expected, finally develops some menace as Golove goes up the scale with tritones – but after a point there’s nowhere to go but into comedic territory on the wings of Vlatkovich’s smirking, muted squonks. There are also a couple of warped ballads here with vividly pensive, lyrical harmonies between trombone and cello, the weirdly edgy funk of Neighborhood Beasts Let Down Their Hair and the closing track, I Let My Magic Tortoise Go, where Vlatkovich draws a quick sketch of the reptile leaping over the garden gate with a grin, dancing across the lawn, so glad to be out in the sunlight again.

    Lucid Culture




    pfMENTUM (CD071)

    A small alternative spot called “Mexicans Without Borders,” located in Grand Rapids, Michigan: that’s where the trombone player, Michael Vlatkovich, chose to present his new Tryyo, including Jonathan Golove on electric cello and Damon Short on drums. Less than two dozen spectators impatiently awaited the performance, and, since the Blue Lake Radio team were on location that February 10th, 2010, “Pershing Woman” – a live album in the truest sense of the word—was recorded during the evening in the most intimate and warm atmosphere that you could hope for this kind of event.


    Why “live in the truest sense of the word”? Simply because this kind of music, born in St. Louis, MO but settled in Los Angeles for the past 40 years, doesn’t need to dress itself up with excuses or hang-ups in order to exist, play and let what happens between the members of the trio come alive.


    Vlatkovich does what he knows how to do best – that is, blows his trombone. Damon Short emphasizes, collides or follows, depending on the situation, and Jonathan Golove roves between relatively funky bass lines, more delicate counterpoint, and deep dives down into waves of improvisation. Roswell Rudd soon comes to mind, doubtless because of the mix between free style and New Orleans that adeptly skirts the limits of bop. The themes are stated by the trombonist {“the blower”} and, most of the time are accompanied by [a drumming term] of snare drum, or by an intelligently deconstructed rhythm, and the cello seems to jump into the movement without ever—despite it all – losing an inner lyricism that is never forced. In a word, it “burns” in the purest free style tradition, along an energy stream that is totally “bio”, springing as it does from the vibrant bodies of the musicians.


    However small, the audience is perceptible in this off-the-cuff recording. It’s not the applause, admittedly thin, nor the reactions of the audience that produce this impression, but rather the sound of the instruments themselves, sounds that we can perceive truly were the way we are now hearing them, with all the rawness and the relative balance-- the authenticity, in short. Those three could play in our living room and the result wouldn’t be different! The reality of this presence lets the listener fully appreciate the value of the three partners, where no equalizer or compressor has been introduced to soften the rigor of the interaction. Whether they ring out in the manner of a mini Ayler fanfare, letting themselves be swept along by the breath of the compositions and above all by the variations that follow, or pause for a moment for one of those ballads that are said to be “unforgiving”  , the exactness and the immediate intelligence of the arrangements soon appear behind the seeming simplicity of the language and the purely physical engagement of the actors. Old-style jazz, if you must, but in a language that is very much today’s, and that deserves the name of living music.

    CHRONIC July-August 2013, Joel PAGIER

    Translation: Dec. 2017

    by Julia Fitzgerald



    If it's Michael Vlatkovich's trombone playing that attracts you, there's plenty more of it on the live and lively Pershing Woman, new from the Vlatkovich Tryyo with Jonathan Golove on electric cello and Damon Short on drums. Here the emphasis is on extended conversational improvisations on free-bopping themes by Vlatkovich. Golove's amplified instrument takes a prominent and active role in this setting, sounding at various points like a bass or a guitar or a cello. On pursued by more past than future, he states the theme with Vlatkovich, then heads off into a counterline that's somewhere between a bass line and another horn part. After a pointed trombone solo, the steady rhythms dissolve and Golove plays an unaccompanied arco solo full of leaps and sustained notes. Short follows with a hip drum solo using brushes. Vlatkovich growls and storms through the dramatic black triangles yellow corn and pink medicine drops, which also features some rocking drumming from Short. The trombonist is at his most tender on with whom each dance, a melancholy ballad that also inspires Golove into some sweet and unadorned bowing, although the gentle title track is a close second. The medley of once in a blue moon a decent wolf comes along and hostages of romance swings hard on a steady beat from Short, a hot solo from Vlatkovich and a cool one from Golove. The drummer takes an intriguingly melodic solo towards the end that brings to mind Max Roach and Ed Blackwell. The ability of each musician in the trio to slide from one role to another as the music develops is one of the band's strengths, along with a fierce commitment to hard listening and collectively quick reflexes. This is one energized club set I'm sorry I missed, so thanks to pfMENTUM for making it available.



    Standout jazz releases from 2012... still resonate with me:

    Trombonist Michael Vlatkovich tears it up on this blistering live set with Jonathan Golove on electric cello and the explosive Damon Short on drums.

    By Robert Bush, January 8, 2013


    Southern California-based trombonist Michael Vlatkovich leads a power-packed trio, captured live at a Michigan venue. The trombonist is firmly entrenched in the region's avant-garde and progressive jazz loop, alongside cohorts such as multi-reedman Vinny Golia, pfMentum Records proprietor and trumpeter Jeff Kaiser and other notables. Here, the trio generates a lot of positive hoopla and excitement as the live recorded sound contains a slight echo that hovers like an aura and summons an analog sense of purity.


    The compact trio format is exploited to the hilt, the musicians exercising quite a bit of give-and-take and push-and-pull with impacting contours, awash with spunky unison choruses, odd-metered time signatures and introspective passages. As a whole, it's a frothy concoction, abetted by drummer Damon Short's furiously sweeping polyrhythmic fills, Jonathan Golove's booming electric cello parts and the leader's hard-hitting lines. The unit abides by a shake, rattle and roll, progressive jazz manifesto via scrappy dialogues and solemn and softly melodic choruses, witnessed by Golove's gentle arco-phrasings on "With Whom Each Dance."


    With "Once in a Blue Moon a Decent Wolf Comes Along/Hostages of Romance (Medley)," the musicians throttle the various flows and dish out an assortment of blustery solo spots and alternating pulses. They sport a big sound, but diversity is a key factor, supported by a string of moody improvisational segments and perky bop choruses.


    The big picture is illuminated by the musicians' perpetual motion, offset by diagonal contrasts and snazzy exchanges. At times they breakout into lone wolves amid mini-solo spots and merge a wholesome blues vibe with a marching band foray during "The Imponderable Hiding in Extra Large Clothing." The band transcends the norm throughout this very hip and buoyantly executed program that sustains interest from start to finish.

    GLENN ASTARITA 12-25-2012


    A twirling drummer (Short Damon), a languid cello (Jonathan Golove), a voluble trombonist (Michael Vlatkovich), a bop that is not, themes mat, flaws in the implementation, crossword dialogues , mood swings, an overflowing energy, bold knits a testing facility ... and a sound recording so poor (who can understand!) that it's hard to go until the end of the CD. So that was the Vlatkovich Tryyo.

    Luc Bouquet


    Featuring Michael Vlatkovich on trombone & compositions, Jonathan Golove on electric cello and Damon Short on drums. Trombonist and composer Michael Vlatkovich is one of the more prolific musicians to emerge from L.A. underground with numerous discs on Nine Winds and pfMentum. Electric cellist Jonathan Golove can be found on at least three previous discs by Vlatkovich. Drummer Damon Short has worked with Fred Hess and Paul Smoker besides have a few discs out as a leader. Although the line-up of trombone, cello and drums is unique, it is Vlatkovich's strong writing that keeps the  trio focused. "Our Customers Should Tell Us Who We Are..." swings buoyantly with the cello switching between taking the bass part and soloing in the second half. Since this disc is a mere trio as opposed to the 11-piece ensemble which has also been released recently, the music is stripped down and somewhat straight ahead instead of chamber/jazz. All three members of the trio get their chances to solo with the trio and unaccompanied as well. All three members of the trio must constantly switch roles which give the trio a fuller sound with some unexpectedly complex changes going on. The trombone and cello work well together since they cover a similar warm-toned phrasing with some austere harmonies between them. Much better and more interesting that I would've thought.

    Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery


    Trombonist Michael Vlatkovich is going through project permutations. This Vlatkovich Tryyo consists of himself, Jonathan Golove on electric cello and Damon Short on drums. Pairing trombone and electric cello proves to be a very good idea - both instruments navigate a similar range with equal power. And that gives some gusto to Vlatkovich’s talkative compositions. Short manages to assert his presence (not always obvious between the two lead musicians’ exchanges). The whole thing come through as spirited and stimulating avant-jazz, but it’s nothing transcending – and the quality of this live recording is a bit disappointing.

    François Couture


    Here’s a jazz trio you’ll love if you’re into “different”… 9 adventures of the moment that will NOT let go of your ears any time soon!  Michael’s trombone mastery features prominently in each of these, but he’s selected players who are as competent (& broad-minded) musically as he is… Damon Short on drums & Johnathan Golove on electric cello blend their talents into a sonic journey fit for listeners who “get their groove” on with the spirit of exploration.  The marvelous “Turtle” (aka “I Let My Magic Tortoise Go”) is my absolute favorite on the CD.  If you’re strictly “MOR” (Middle Of the Road) in your listening habits, you’ll probably go elsewhere, but if (like me) sonic complexity and high energy jazz are your forte’s, you’ll agree with my ears – MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  “EQ” (energy quotient) is 4.99… in fact, this gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best improvised trio”!

    Rotcod Zzaj


    Trumpeter Jeff Kaiser's fiercely independent record label pfMENTUM has scored big once again with its latest release by trombone virtuoso Michael Vlatkovich titled Pershing Woman--Vlatkovich Tryyo.


    This disc represents the state-of-the-art in free-trombone, and small group improvising aesthetics. Vlatkovich is a master of timbre-manipulation, free-swinging ideas and compositions that create a laboratory for musical interaction.


    Supported in this endeavor by the highly creative cello work of Jonathan Golove and the barely-containable drum dynamics of Damon Short, Pershing Woman will knock your head back from beginning to end.


    Opening with the insistent free-bop repetitions of "Our Costumes Should Tell Us...," Vlatkovich's sing-song Ornette Coleman-esque theme is buttressed by the low-end pizzicato of Golove and Short's sublime combo-plate of wicked cymbal pings and over the top martial cadences, which spur the trombonist into a wide-ranging, alternately furious and considered solo.


    Vlatkovich's rippling multi-phonics layer over the loose-limbed drum-chatter in "Black Triangles Yellow Corn and Pink Medicine Drops," while Golove's nagging ostinato holds it all together.

    "I Let My Magic Tortoise Go," is all turbulent fanfare--guided by the relentless drum dialog of Short and the dark arco moans of the cello.


    At 12:18, "The Imponderable Hiding In Extra-Large Clothing," is sprawling, episodic and as funny as its title. Featuring pinpoint free-bop unisons the melody yields to a wild cello solo that manages to swing by sheer confidence. Short's brush-strokes keep the whole thing moving forward while Vlatkovich places violent repetitions and wide vibrato on top. Short throws it all in for his drum essay-- setting off a series of explosive accents that plays like a shoot-out in Gasoline Alley.


    Every cut on this disc rocks, struts and swings like a "mo-fo". Essential listening for adventurous music lovers.

    Robert Bush, August 1, 2012


    Jazz trombonist, composer and arranger, Michael Vlatkovich brought his 3 piece band to Grand Rapids on Saturday, October 2 (2010) for an intimate concert hosted by Hugo Claudin of Mexicains Sans Frontieres.


    The band was also in Michigan for the Edgefest in Ann Arbor, a popular jazz festival in its 14th year.


    Staff from Blue Lake Radio attended the show to record the live performance attended by nearly two dozen jazz fans.


    The band played two sets in a relaxed atmosphere, telling stories in between songs and answering questions from the attendees. The music, all original compositions, ranged from classic jazz club arrangements to moments of experimentalist jazz. Accompanied by drummer Damon Short, and Jonathan Golove on 5 string electric cello, Vlatkovich often takes his audience into some near-surrealist territory with odd time signatures, and quirky arrangements.

    Scott Warren  The Rapidian


    The trombone is an almost criminally overlooked instrument in jazz. And Michael Vlatkovich sure knows his way around a jazz trombone. Also, the idea of teaming up said trombone with a cello (listed as an "electric cello") and drums is truly curious.


    The cello is the trombone of the string section, the instrument that expected to carry the mid-range bass clef lines. It plays in much the same range as the trombone, though with a completely different feel.

    These inventive pieces don't stray much from the lower ranges (though Jonathan Golove pushes his cello into the treble clef now and again), but Golove and Vlatkovich have an amazing rapport, and Damon Short is masterful in his use of the drums as glue. The sum is almost always greater than the parts, as this generally sounds more like a quintet than a trio.


    Exceptionally creative and easily accessible for any jazz fan. Vlatkovich's trombone is tender and forceful, and he makes the most of his most malleable instrument. Likewise with these songs, which give the players plenty of room. These boys like playing with each other, and the combination is explosive. Mind-throttling.

    Jon Worley


    San Diego Reader best of 2012 list by Robert Bush

    Vlatkovich Tryyo – Pershing Woman (pfMENTUM)

    Trombonist Michael Vlatkovich tears it up on this blistering live set with Jonathan Golove on electric cello and the explosive Damon Short on drums.



  • ART



    CD071 TRACKS




    CD071 DISC

  •                 our costumes should tell us

                    who we are and what we think

  • an autobiography of a pronoun

    Michael Vlatkovich Ensemblio

    CD067  (2012)

    Available in CD format.


    TRACK 09

    Little Rubber Arrow And Elephant Sandwich




    CDO67 (CD) (2012)



    The people in the front are going to have a good time.

    The people in the back are going to have a good time too.


    Jeff Kaiser – trumpet

    William Roper – tuba / euphonium / cimbasso

    Michael Vlatkovich – trombone / percussion

    Brian Walsh – clarinet

    Harry Scorzo – violin

    Jonathan Golove – cello

    Tom McNalley – guitar

    Wayne Peet – keyboard

    Anders Swanson – bass

    Mark Burden – percussion

    Ellington Peet - cymbal


    Astonishing and highly original chamber-jazz. I never heard of Vlatkovich before, but he’s been composing music for thirty years and has twenty releases in his catalogue, many of them released on his own ThankYou Records label. This Missouri-born trombonist, composer and arranger has been based in Los Angeles since 1973, and has performed around the world with numerous collaborators and groups. Working here with some topnotch American musicians (Jeff Kaiser, William Roper, Brian Walsh, Wayne Peet and many others), Vlatkovich delivers some of the most fascinating music in the jazz vernacular I’ve ever heard. His method inevitably involves the integration of improvisational passages with composed passages, but he stresses in his notes to this release that he has no interest in discussing his techniques, and would prefer his music to be “experienced emotionally”. Elsewhere, I learn that his structures tend to be simple and minimal, which is encouraging news and suggests that he’s found a way to power his compositions in such ways that the energy of his collaborating players is harnessed to the full. When I think of other musicians who have done similar things, e.g. John Zorn, Braxton or Cecil Taylor, the results are always powerful and effective, but you often have the sense of the “structure” in place which is driving everything; sometimes you can even hear the joins. Vlatkovich succeeds in hiding the joins, and the music just sweeps you away as directly as anything by Duke Ellington or Charles Mingus. Each piece is a delight of odd dynamics, concentrated musical information, and evidence of the many “variables” the composer uses in his integration actions. The track titles may strike you as a bit contrived or even too “cute”, but when you

    hear the music I think you’ll begin to sense the cohesion of the whole package. Indeed many of these pieces, with their deliberately awkward phrasing, tricky rhythms, and highly inventive melodies, come to resemble a sort of fractured story-telling or absurdist poetry.  “There is a lot going on during portions of this CD”, claims the composer, and that’s putting it mildly. What a very pleasant discovery.

    [JUL 2012] The Sound Projector 22nd Issue 2013


    Trombonist Michael Vlatkovich has been a stalwart presence in the West Coast improvising community for more than 30 years. His compositions and arrangements, which anchor this disc, defy the standard definitions and expectations of jazz, classical, and free-improvisation practices equally.


    Vlatkovich aims for a musical presentation that blurs the distinctions between written and improvised material, and, on this disc, the results are a stunning success. There is so much music happening all at once on this album, that it becomes pointless to attach a preconceived notion to any of it.


    An Autobiography Of A Pronoun boasts a cast of 11 top-flight musicians--and while there may be a few cuts with everyone on it, the disc features several constants, like the wild violin of Harry Scorzo, who's confident and challenging lines suggest a union of Stuff Smith and Billy Bang, Wayne Peet's keyboards, the honey-toned bass of Anders Swanson and the percolating drums of Mark Burdon.


    Add to this mix the resonant cello of Jonathon Golove, the low-end heroics of tuba/euphonium virtuoso William Roper, the Derek Bailey-esque contributions of guitarist Tom McNalley, trumpet antics of Jeff Kaiser and the clarinet work of Brian Walsh, and you've got the makings of a delicious stew of musical mayhem. Ellington Peet is also listed as playing the cymbal, but it was impossible for me to distinguish his contribution from that of bad, I guess.

    The disc begins in almost chamber fashion-- Scorzo's violin and Golove's cello over the tinkling percussion, but quickly morphs into an angular trombone/violin melody. The other instruments combine for a clockwork distillation of cacophony underpinning the scraping and clawing of McNalley. The cello seeps in with wide glissandi, then players gradually drop out until it's just arco bass and piano, who solo simultaneously.


    Throughout this record, there's a kind of collage, or kaleidoscope feeling that pervades, as instruments, moods, melodies and solos surface, dominate briefly, then recede into other ideas and themes.


    Highlights abound: on "More Grey Than White," Scorzo's presence is clearly experienced. I've never heard a violinist quite like this guy before, and he get's a lot of space throughout. Swanson also logs a fiendishly dexterous solo that still leaves room to marvel at his precise timbral control, regardless of velocity.


    "Jmz 2." is a feature for the remarkable ideas of the leader, who essays them over a kind of New Orleans groove established by bass and drums. Vlatkovich lets it fly on this one, blowing out nervous, repetitive lines broken up by ecstatic forays of yelping upper register ideas. Peet takes over with a jangling exposition over the skittish drums and manic plucking of Swanson.


    "Jzm3," introduces the trumpet melody of Kaiser to the reflective tuba of Roper and the pedaling tones of Vlatkovich. Kaiser eventually takes it out, like way out, with extreme manipulations of register, much in the spirit of the great Lester Bowie. At just over 2 minutes in length, it's all over too soon.


    "Little Rubber Arrow and Elephant Sandwich," brings the fluid clarinet of Brian Walsh in, doubling the melody in tandem with the astonishingly nimble tuba work of Roper. This is excellent stuff, coming off like Oliver Nelson meeting Bela Bartok over an intensely driven rhythmic component.


    "Explain again why I can't drive faster than the car in front of me," in addition to its hilarious title, is a bluesy free-bop head that utilizes most of the ensemble, driven by the protean walking of Swanson and the creative dissonances of Vlatkovich, Scorzo and Golove, who wrap wicked lines around each other like reptile wrestlers.


    Finally, "Queen Dynamo," swings like there's no tomorrow. Trombone, clarinet, violin all get to shine while tuba, bass and drums burn the midnight oil.


    An Autobiography Of A Pronoun, is the real deal. This is creative music on the level of Anthony Braxton, Vinny Golia, or anything out there. Another standout release from trumpeter Jeff Kaiser's excellent independent label, pfMENTUM, this is highly recommended, and worth seeking out.

    By Robert Bush, February 4, 2012


    Mike composed, arranged and played trombone and percussion for this (just under) 50 minute recording, his 15th over 30 years.  The player list is far too long, so if you want the detail on who was playing what, go to the label page; of course, you can see most of the players on the CD cover image, but you’ll want to visit the label anyway (this is one of my favorite labels!).  I’m sure one of the reasons why “JMZ part 2” was picked as the sample is because it’s (definitely) in the jazz vein… though “traditional” jazz listeners may not agree, the rhythms on this track are ingenious and totally entertaining!  My personal favorite was the totally jazzed-up “Explain Again Why I Can’t Drive Faster Than The Car In Front Of Me”; & not just because of the “dented” title… this is, in fact, one of the most intriguing pieces of ensemble jazz I’ve heard this decade; all the twists & turns you’d expect on that winding road to nor-ever.   (would be awfully nice to have a link to a sample of it, but I couldn’t find one loaded anywhere).  For experimental & “different” listeners, this gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  

    Rotcod Zzaj


    The Michael Vlatkovich Ensemblio covers plenty of ground on the strangely beautiful An Autobiography of a Pronoun, playing everything from modernistic chamber music to assertive free jazz. The accomplished composer and trombonist Vlatkovich writes that "I have never wished to discuss my technical process because I think music should be experienced emotionally." Anyway, who really needs to know where the composition recedes and the improvisations slip in, except the musicians who are playing it? A curious ensemble of brass, clarinet, strings and rhythm gives Vlatkovich an amazing range of tonal colors to deploy. Take a piece like little rubber arrow and elephant sandwich with its intricate vaguely Middle Eastern melody, in a snazzy arrangement with continually shifting instrumental combinations that allows for very brief solo statements as transitions. Then there's the lazy shuffle of explain again why I can't drive faster than the car in front of me (love that title!) has Vlatkovich soloing with great deliberation as he jumps out of the mass of horns and strings. The music settles down for a bit, revs up when Wayne Peet on piano and Jonathan Golove on cello get a little rambunctious, then grows calms again for a relaxed piano solo with commentary by percussionist Mark Burdon. queen dynamo, it wouldn't surprise you to know, goes through plenty of changes in five minutes, from its fractured swing opening to a stop-time middle section to a sinuous extended melody to...well, you get the idea. There are no solos, just constantly shifting swirls of sound, with individual voices jumping out for just a moment. While sometimes the emotional content is masked or muted, Vlatkovich can tug at the heartstrings when he wants to, as on the closing memories hold my hand, featuring lovely and sonorous work by ace tuba player William Roper and violinist Harry Scorzo. There's much more to discover on this sometimes dense but always approachable disc. Worth seeking out for venturesome listeners.



    Michael Vlatkovich career encompases thirty years and he has now released five LPs, a DVD and fifteen CDs. In recent years he mainly plays in larger ensembles, including Vinny Golia Large Ensemble. For his own Ensemblio Vlatkovich composed a suite for eleven musicians from the scene of Los Angeles, including trumpeter Jeff Kaiser, keyboardist Wayne Peet and violinist Harry Scorzo. The nine pieces navigate between jazz, improv, blues and chamber music. Vlatkovich, who plays trombone and percussion, leaves much room for his companions and took plenty of time (several months) to his ideas in the form that he aspired to be poured. The result is therefore an elaborate piece of contemporary jazz that just does not claim sufficient attention to impress but is good enough to enjoy to the fullest. It is the three releases listed here the most conventional, and perhaps precisely because of our tastes the least exciting.

    Patrick Bruneel (juni 2012)

    Trnalation:  Google & CMB


    Vlatkovich is a composer, arranger and trombonist from St Louis, active since 1973 in the Los Angeles area. He has released numerous recordings with famous collaborators, especially from the west coast and even more releases as a guest, as trombonist he is comparible to Rudd or the Swell in his voice but more slender. This puts his Ensemblio in a heterodox and experimental bag already and so not entirely approved. The music is metrically and harmonically clear and transparent, slow to unravel and open to long solo excursions. Essentially polythematic, reflecting the collaborational mode in which it is organized and is more mechanical than fluid, but redeemed by clattering sounds that seem to promise travel in some little known territory. Among the partners, Kaiser can read more clearly the spirit of the compositions.

    Dalla Bona, Musica Jazz, vol. LXVIII n. 6, June 2012


    Idea-Packed Big Band Improvisation from Michael Vlatkovich’s Ensemblio  Trombonist Michael Vlatkovich’s Ensemblio has an intriguingly original album, Autobiography of a Pronoun, out now: the concept is improvisational big band jazz. This isn’t the waves of tunefulness followed by controlled chaos that Butch Morris champions, nor is it slowly shifting Greg Tate-style long-tone improvisation. What fuels this is a good sense of humor and artful orchestration: there are times when the whole ten-piece ensemble is cooking, but more often than not it’s a series of subgroups exploring a particular idea, so when the entire band gets in on it, the upward dynamics pack more of a punch. Most of this music is defiantly atonal, alluding to but seldom hitting a catchy hook head-on, the sixth track’s hypnotically syncopated Ethiopiques being the most memorable melody here in the conventional sense of the word. The presence of both Harry Scorzo’s violin and Jonathan Golove’s cello along with Anders Swanson’s frequently bowed bass add sonics that range from austere to occasionally lush and sweeping. It pretty much goes without saying that those who need a catchy tune to sing along to, or a steady beat to follow, will need to look elsewhere. But for jazz fans with an ear for the unconventional, this can be as much fun as it obviously was for the band to record.


    Sample song title: Leg Belly Neon Kill Climb Unaware Pride, the ten-minute opening track. Surrealism reigns, from the pensive third-stream string ensemble introduction, a clave theme with vivid murky/airy contrasts between violin and ambience behind it, wry microtonalisms from Vlatkovich and a tasty Twin Peaks-ian interlude with legato piano leading spacious bass accents. It ends on an ominously agitated note.


    The second track is more overtly improvisational, like early ELO on acid, anchored by drummer Michael Burdon’s funky shuffle, with tense strings-versus-horns contrasts, a free interlude that weaves from comedic to apprehensive and a lively, dancing bass solo out. Like the first cut, it has a persistent sense of unease. A three-part suite titled JMZ follows: its first section a rather chilling, twilit conversation between the bass and Wayne Peet’s piano, the second a blues ballad in heavy disguise contrasting rumbling, tumbling rhythms with terse piano and trombone motifs and the final an unexpectedly comic, increasingly rhythmic interlude led by William Roper’s tuba.


    A jaggedly swinging large-ensemble piece, the wry Explain Why I Can’t Drive Faster Than the Car in Front of Me builds tension right from the big, lush opening chart, through a jarringly dissonant trombone/violin passage, to Peet’s piano going agitatedly off the edge into biting bop. Brian Walsh’s clarinet holds the funky Queen Dynamo together as the violin swirls and dips acidically before passing off to Jeff Kaiser’s muted trumpet and the trombone. The final piece, Memories Hold My Hand, is a sad, stately, Russian-flavored baroque requiem driven by somber tuba/trombone harmonies over flickering percussion. Those are just the highlights: other elements that are no less interesting emerge with repeated listening. Kick back with this if you’re up for getting swept into what can be an intense, inspiring, entertaining ride.

    Posted by delarue, March 12, 2012


    The feel is improvisational, but I think most of that lies in the spontaneous nature of the compositions. The ensemble samples all the sounds of the orchestra, channeling them through Vlatkovich's decidedly modern ideas. A lot more classical than one might expect--and impressively so. Fine pieces and inspirational playing. 

    Jon Worley


    Michael Vlatkovich is a Los Angeles-based composer and arranger...and he is also one of the most prolific and talented improvisational players in California. Vlatkovich has amassed a truly impressive list of accomplishments over the years...not the least of which includes playing with classic artists like Peggy Lee, Brian Setzer, Bryan Adams, Bobby Bradford, Gerry Hemingway, Rob Blakeslee, and Rich Halley (to name a few). Yes, Michael has certainly already cemented his own niche in musical history. But instead of resting on his laurels the man continues to forge ahead with his provocative style of free-form music. On the curiously-titled An Autobiography of a Pronoun Vlatkovich utilizes the skills of a wealth of California's top-notch players...Jeff Kaiser, William Roper, Brian Walsh, Harry Scorzo, Jonathan Golove, Tom McNalley, Wayne Peet, Anders Swanson, Mark Burdon, and Ellington Peet (many of whom have been mentioned and/or reviewed numerous times in these pages in the past). These impeccably recorded compositions are smart, impulsive, moody, cerebral, and inventive. We just can't seem to get enough of the cool modern music on the pfMENTUM label...and this is yet another direct bull's eye. Nine puzzling cuts including "Leg Belly Neon Kill Climb Unaware Pride," "Little Rubber Arrow and Elephant Sandwich," and "Memories Hold My Hand." Peculiar. Recommended for fans of Frank Zappa. Top pick.


    A new release from the Pfmentum label run by Jeff Kaiser. Vlatkovich is a trombonist, composer and arranger and a key figure in improvised music scene of Los Angeles. He settled here as a musician in 1973 and built up experience in performing jazz, improvised music and world music. Played with Gerry Hemingway, Peggy Lee, and many others. More recent Vlatkovitch is regular member of Vinny Golia Large Ensemble and performing with his own ensembles. Michael Vlatkovich Ensemblio is one of these projects. A line up of eleven musicians give flesh and blood to the ‘An Autobiography of a Pronoun’ suite, composed by Vlatkovich. This work is the 15th release. It was recorded in 2010 during a period of a few months. Afterwards it has been edited and mixed before it ended on cd. It is a good solid work albeit not earthshaking. Some of the compositions that make up this suite have not much to offer. But this is compensated by the fresh and engaged playing, and fine arrangements. Also because there is enough room for improvisation. Some parts are close to chamber music, like the opening piece ‘Leg Belly Neon Kill Climb Unaware Pride’, that has nice violin playing by Harry Scorzo. Other parts are bluesy or jazzy (‘Queen Dynamo’) . Some are up tempo and spontaneous, others develop slow and are reflective. Interesting and enjoyable elements can be pointed at in each of the building stones of this work. Although I remain a bit ambivalent about this one, one can easily pick up that this suite is an excellent vehicle and opportunity for these musicians to show their best sides.

    (DM) Vital Weekly 82

  • ART



    CD067 DISC



  • three3

    MV013  (2010)

    Available in CD format.


    TRACK 01

    The Fat Dance




    MV013 (CD) (2010)




    The people in the front are going to have a good time.

    The people in the back are going to have a good time too.


    Michael Vlatkovich – Trombone / Compositions

    Chris Lee - Drums

    Kent McLagen - Acoustic Bass


    The West Coast trombone genius continues his odyssey of exploring the trombone/bass/drums format, with delightful results. This time the tritet is filled out with Chris Lee on drums and Ken McLagen on drums, and between the three of them, the listening is really incredible. Three3 was recorded live in Denver in 2007, although any crowd noise has been edited out. As with any trio, of paramount importance is variety of texture, which the tritet achieves with seemingly no effort. Vlatkovich gives his comrades plenty of space, and while everything stays essentially tonal and lyrical, even when they actually head into swing territory, like on “Neighborhood Beasts Let Their Hair Down,” the approach is pretty free.


    Perhaps the most stunning thing is that Vlatkovich is as nimble on the instrument as he is. Trombone, of course, has some famous jazz exponents, but for some reason retains the reputation of a somewhat clunky beast to improvise on. Vlatkovich puts those issues to rest in a very conclusive way. Not that he's trying to be Dizzy Gillespie, but you get the sense that he could blaze up the scales if he wanted to. His muse leads him into more reserved music, however, and he writes tunes that mirror his improvisational goals, frequently building off ostinatos before opening up into spacious improv sections.  McLagen and Lee are simultaneously supportive of the leader's thought processes as well as pushing their own ideas out into the music. Truly, they are the rhythm section everyone wishes they could have, with their elasticity, sense of dynamics and playfulness. They reflect Vlatkovich's good vibe: Three3 could definitely be defined as feel-good music, and how often can you say that about music from the so-called creative music community?


    Ever since he formed THANKYOU records in 1982, Vlatkovich has consistently pursued whatever project inspired him at the time, ranging from large ensembles to a duo with tuba to a myriad of trombone-poetry dialogues. Lately, however, the pattern of his interest in the tritet has become more clear, and if you compare this recording to his others in this format, it becomes apparent how different each recording is. Aside from the fact that he employs different rhythm sections on each outing, he also seems to focus on an over-arching theme for the tritet to elaborate on, even if it's hard to articulate exactly what that is. Despite even repeating a track from his Origin tritet disc Queen Dynamo (“The Length of the Tail...”), the feeling is quite different.  Vlatkovich is one of those guys who's been around a long time, and yet flies under the radar of most jazz heads. It's unconscionable! This is easily one of the best albums this year.

    Reviewed by: Tom Chandler


    Third release featuring trombonist Vlatkovich with a rhythm section – in this occasion Chris Lee (drums) and Kent McLagen (acoustic bass) – after No Zee Two Es and Queen Dynamo (both of which were missed here). The music was recorded live in Denver in 2007, the briskness of the interplay justifying its origin. This is jazz, essentially, if rather unconventional and quite spacious. The main character is an adept musician, no question about it; his explorations privilege the reading of short melodic modules and not-exactly-tonal fragments, yet he’s also able to create states of semi-romantic adulthood as it occurs in “Model Planetarian”, arco bass and mallets on the toms constituting the groundwork of a pensive kind of instrumental erudition. Halfway through calm assertion and amusing report, the tracks of Three3 do not invite to an immediate change of CD, which is always a good starting point. Then again, if you manage to disregard the flimsiness of certain solutions, a few moderate surprises will render the experience sweeter. The right adjective is “unpretentious”.

    Massimo Ricci    September 9, 2010


    I get almost as much a kick from Michael Vlatkovich’s song titles as I do from his pliant and witty trombone work in The

    Michael Vlatkovich Trio. It’s hard not to smile when ‘The Fat Dance’ kicks in to begin three3 , a live set by Vlatkovich, bassist Kent McLagen, and drummer Chris Lee. After all, you know (or you think you know) what a ‘fat dance’ might look like, and here’s a blustery ‘bone acting it out for you. Vlatkovich has frequently convened trios over the years, with this group evidently a one-shot deal while the Los Angeles based trombonist visited Denver. Somehow they make it sound like they’ve been doing this every night for quite some time, a tribute to the talents of McLagen and Lee as well as the

    ready-to-go nature of Vlatkovich’s highly individual material. If you’re coming to this music from a strict bebop context, it sounds very free. But if you’ve just been immersed in some unstructured improvisations, the music’s form is apparent.


    Vlatkovich, it seems, can play just about anything he imagines, with an immense repertoire of slide effects and growls plus an endless number of ways to attack and articulate his notes.


    Teetering on the edge of composition and improvisation, his music generously leaves a lot of room for the trio to explore.They listened hard to make this work, and the reward is taut, conversational music that will move you not just today, but again and again, feeling just a bit different each time around. Warmly recommended.

    Stuart Kremsky


    Over the course of dozens of recordings in a myriad of formats, under his own name both as a major collaborator or as a sideman, Michael Vlatkovich has established his voice. The pared down trio format brings that to the fore. As in his many other sessions, Vlatkovich’s blowing and writing are of a piece—punchy, angular declarations spun into tightly argued elaborations. That lends itself to the trio format especially when he’s joined by such sympathetic musicians as bassist Kent McLagen and drummer Chris Lee. They lock into the percussive implications of Vlatkovich’s pieces, the characteristic herky-jerky near grooves. The melodic cast is similar, an anxious sense of wanting to spring free of tonal restraint, but never quite making that leap. That’s Vlatkovich’s voice and his cohorts complement it with their own. In the ensembles, McLagen plugs in shards of vamps consisting of thematic bits and then extends Vlatkovich’s improvised licks downward. Their conversation on the ballad "Model Planetarian" exemplifies their close interplay. At times they slip into spontaneous tutti sections. Lee kicks it along, often with akimbo march patterns and rolling syncopations. The trombonist’s approach over his extensive discography is so consistent that it’s hard to say that this new release, however well executed, really adds much. It won’t disappoint his fans, certainly, and for those who have yet to sample his work, I say get to it and start here.

     David Dupont    122 | cadence | oct - nov - dec 2009


    The great trombonist Michael Vlatkovich American (born in St. Louis, Missouri, but now living in California since 1973) continues his run with a new trio project (which he calls tritet) recorded live, alternating invariably the rhythm section. In this case, we are in Denver, not too far from the hot California base of these musicians, though Colorado is decidedly at odds, at least for what concerns the climate and way of life.


    Three3 consists bassist Kent McLagen and drummer Chris Lee, the two musicians ore not well-known but excellent companions of adventure and who support the creative verve of Vlatkovich and find their own space. Able to push forward the sound with a good preparation for managing the dynamics that make the music breathe wonderfully, as does good mountain air.


    The approach is essentially that of free jazz, but in this case remains inextricably tied to the principles of tonality. The music is not tied down in any way and transform itself but without too much license. Even the swing is allowed to percolate through the cracks of the compositions (eg "Neighborhood Beasts Let Their Hair Down"), but is a modern variant, light years away from the vintage references.


    The apparent ease of the leader to shape the flow of expression that comes out of his trombone has all the agility usually associated with a trumpeter. Cascades of notes seemingly limitless range and dynamics. Cascades of lava that delineate a territory... a trend we hope will be covered by other unconventional musicians. Take heart, there is room.

    Mauritian Comandini    Rating: 3.5 stars  (Some Translation assists from CMB)


    Rumination in the ‘bone yard; these notable sessions revel in the multiplicity of sounds that can be extracted from only three instruments. Luckily the two bass-drum-trombone ensembles here bring a similar understanding of proper dynamics, although the strategies are antipodal.


    Seven extended compositions by Portland, Ore.-based trombonist Michael Vlatkovich make up Three3’s session, while 14 of the 17 [!] tracks on SQUAKK were either written, co-written or improvised by trombonist Christof Thewes of Berlin. A long-time associate of multi-reedman Vinny Golia, Vlatkovich has done everything from co-leading an ensemble with a poet; playing in a combo with cornetist Bobby Bradford; performing on film soundtracks like The Tempest; and backing pop singers such as Bryan Adams. Bassist Kent McLagen has recorded with trumpeter Ron Miles and guitarist Bill Frisell, while drummer Chris Lee is a local time-keeper.


    Saarland-born Thewes teaches jazz at a music conservatory as well as gigging as part of pianist Uli Gumpert’s Workshop Band, Globe Unity Orchester and Lacy Pool. Drummer Michael Griener also teaches while gigging with Gumpert and saxophonist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky among others. A member of Monk’s Casino with Globe Unity leader, pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, bassist Jan Roder also plays in=2 0Gumpert’s band plus is part of the Die Enttäuschung quartet.


    Taking fewer than 50 minutes to run through all the music on SQUAKK, Thewes puts himself firmly in the advanced lineage of German trombonist like Albert Mangelsdorff and the Bauer brothers. Certainly his vocalized braying syllables, slithering cries, harsh honks and strident whistles are impressive. At the same time his tremolo flutter-tonguing and rubato exploration of pure air blown through the horn’s lead pipe link his sonic excavations to those tried by minimalist New music types as well.


    Tongue acrobatics and shading may be his stock-in-trade – especially on the briefer tunes. When he’s not, for instance, squealing on “Not”, his moderato tone suggests the capillary sophistication of Tyree Glenn or Vic Dickinson, especially when Griener shatters cymbal beats and Roder strums arpeggios around him. With sonic alchemy, Thewes’ horn timbre can sound like that of Benny Goodman’s clarinet tones on “Dladlidlum”, while on this tune the others contribute to this resemblance by moving through Gene Krupa-like snare pops and Jo Jones brush work on the drummer’s part, to slapping Pops Foster-like on the bass strings or harmonize arco lines with humming à la Slam Stewart on the bassist’s part.

    This respect for the tradition doesn’t stop the three from extending it as well. On “Bulyah-daht” for example, Thewes’ pitch-swelling and vibrating growls j oin in broken octave concordance with Griener’s rebounds and ruffs in semi-march time. Elsewhere, Griener could be tap-dancing on his drum skins on “Strange Suite”, until Roder’s sul ponticello squeaks and Thewes’ capillary warbles join the percussionist’s brush-propelled rebounds in triple counterpoint. Finally there’s “Puzzle”, where the trombonist’s tongue-flutters dissolves into barely-there air wisps. That is until cross-crunched cymbal smacks lead Thewes to blast his way to fortissimo, with the tones reverberating onto themselves.


    More poised and mercurial, Three3 operates closer to outright jazz styling, but lacks none of the verve – not to mention squawks – of SQUAKK. Lee especially appears to be more than self-effacing though, adding a steady clip-clop, clanking rim shots or Latinized inferences at different points in the program, but elsewhere remaining in the background. McLagen picks up some of this slack with steady walking or stop-time emphasis. But on the whole, the mental image of an overweight individual timidly attempting a terpsichorean movement is reflected by the percussionist in more than the first tune title, “The Fat Dance”.


    Overall, it’s Vlatkovich inimitable technical panache which sonically illuminates most of the tracks. Fond of interjecting his pet licks into solos as often as say, Eric Dolphy did in similar situations, his sound is instantly identifiable. Thus a piece like “Where is Wanda SkutnickD, at the very end of the CD, benefits from the same facile introduction of contrapuntal glissandi, intense note clusters and a steeplechase from diminuendo to crescendo, as he displays elsewhere. His hocketing and brassy slithers always impress. However it’s beneficial that the CD doesn’t extend much past 46 minutes or another soloist would have been needed for contrast. Prowess shouldn’t be confused with bigheadedness, but Vlatkovich’s skill makes Three3 more of a soloist-plus-rhythm date than SQUAKK.


    That means tracks such as “Length of the Tail Doesn't Really Matter, But It Does Have to Be Bushy” or “Neighborhood Beasts Let Their Hair Down” are amiable as well as loquaciously titled, but are often more about noticeable technique train-spotting than musical satiation. On the former, McLagen’s steady walking bass and positioned bowing plus Lee’s rolls and strokes provide a pleasant backdrop to the trombonist’s tone jumps, exaggerated slurs and rugged vocalism. And the later tune showcases Vlatkovich’s gliding grace notes from various slide positions as well as burnished tremolo tones. But here, the other two seem to be merely along for the ride.


    Members in good standing of the short list of innovative contemporary trombonists both Thewes and Vlatkovich can be definitely praised. SQUAKK however is more of a group achievement than the other disc.

    Track Listing: Three3: 1. The Fat Dance 2. Somehow We Can 't Catch a Glimpse of Our Future in a Passing Train Window Train Window 3. Length of the Tail Doesn't Really Matter, But It Does Have to Be Bushy 4. Neighborhood Beasts Let Their Hair Down 5. Model Planetarian 6. The Man Who Walks… 7. Where is Wanda Skutnick?

    Personnel: Three3: Michael Vlatkovich (trombone); Kent McLagen (bass) and Chris Lee (drums)

    Track Listing: SQUAKK: 1. Confiture torture I 2. Schlimmer geht nimmer 3. Dark Mingus II 4. Strange Suite 5. Dladlidlum 6. Por Celan 7. Ying & Yan 8. Confiture torture II 9. Schlimmer geht immer 10. Puzzle 11. Die garage 12. Not 13. Blue Chilli Out 14. Capitulation Miniature 15. Bulyah-daht 16. Aussentreppe 17. Confiture torture III

    Personnel: SQUAKK: Christof Thewes (trombone); Jan Roder (bass) and Michael Griener (drums)

    Ken Waxman     Jazz Werkstatt JW 046     August 25, 2009


    Michael Vlatkovich's snappy West Coast trombone-bass-drums trio visited Denver in 2007, and the result was this fine live disc. The musicians feed joyfully off the tunes' lean, pocket-size grooves, occasionally pausing for a little elastic balladry: maybe this is old-school stuff compared to the mindbending mix of post-M-BASE conceptual funk and electronics on Michael Dessen's recent Between Shadow and Space, instead hewing a lot closer to the sound of the venerable BassDrumBone (Anderson/Dresser/Hemingway), but it's still a delight to hear it done this well. Come to think of it, BDB never quite managed to put together an album as consistently brilliant as you'd expect, given the players concerned; this one, by contrast, with its much less starry cast, doesn't have a dead spot among its seven tracks. Bassist Kent McLagen and drummer Chris Lee deal lightly but decisively with the teasing loops of melody and rhythm that Vlatkovich likes to build into his pieces (all the better for his lines to dodge around). Lee has a sweet, truly melodic approach to the drums, pattering out tapdance rhythms and countermelodies (you can pick out the pitches quite easily); it's a style that can be distractingly cute in the hands of some players – Matt Wilson comes to mind – but here it's entirely channelled into the music, and on tracks like "The Man Who Walks..." and the insanely catchy "Where Is Wanda Skutnick?" the results are like a comic three-way conspiracy. But the trio also has its dark, rhapsodic side, which comes out on "Model Plantation", a free ballad that slowly courses through the trombone and arco bass lines, folding back in on itself in layers of overlapping dialogue; at the end Vlatkovich is left softly humming to himself, as the rhythm section's tide gradually recedes.



    We find in this recording the power, subtlety and that fruity intonation of West Coast trombones, that takes us back to the music of Mingus or small ensembles around the big band of Stan Kenton. It is a fine jazz trio of inhabited by muscular tones, and goddess riffs.  They took live sound in a place with poor acoustics which the sorcerer Wayne Peet made work with his mastering miracles. In these circumstances the three musicians have difficulty maintaining the listener's interest a sthe music is qutie demanding. We do not find in this context the Michael Vlatkovich composer and arranger we find in his composition for big bands.  Here he seems to want a purely instrumentalist form. The musicians take a certain pleasure in play and the concert had to be excellent, but we would like a little more of that music coming off the disc to our ears. We look forward to the next Vlatkovich.

    Noël Tachet  Translation via Google with help from CMB


    When’s the last time you heard about a trombone-led trio? Well, why not? And this thing swings.


    While L.A. boneman Vlatkovich may have scored his widest rep in avant circles, he’s always shown he loves every kind of jazz; drummer Chris Lee and bassist Kent McLagen lay down the kind of wide asphalt groove he can ride on all day.  “Three” growls along like a Rolls right from the beginning, as the bluesy-balladic introduction of “The Fat Dance” gives way to hip-wigglin’ shooga-beat; you can almost see Vlatkovich sticking his slide in the air as he works out on the high notes and McLagen locks into a motivational solo. Huh! Huh! Variations on the boogie -- Afro-Caribe, syncopated bopulations, old-line tick-a-boom -- surface sequentially, with an overall whapping Ronald Shannon Jackson vibe permeating thanks to the sometimes rhythmically contrarian Lee, who knocks some unusual sounds out of his cymbals, such as the soft overlapping surf crashes he stirs up on “Somehow . . .”   Vlatkovich must’ve envied the freedom Sonny Rollins enjoyed in those old trio sessions, and he shows that a sufficiently virtuosic trombonist can generate a similarly liberating atmosphere -- riffing, sliding, spitting out ambiguous split tones. A couple of free-improv tracks don’t kick quite as much tail, but they do give the group a cha nce to smear some fresh colors, notably via McLagen’s arco sustains. The recording by Craig Keyser and the editing/mastering by Wayne Peet maximize the sparse resources; you’d hardly know “Three” was recorded live in a Denver bookstore. Original/funny cover artwork by William Roper, too. An unexpected treasure, highly playable.

    No attribution available.  From LA.


    Michael Vlatkovich, Chris Lee, Kent McLagen, “Three” (Thankyou)

    When’s the last time you heard about a trombone-led trio? Well, why not? And this thing swings.


    While L.A. boneman Vlatkovich may have scored his widest rep in avant circles, he’s always shown he loves every kind of jazz; drummer Chris Lee and bassist Kent McLagen lay down the kind of wide asphalt groove he can ride on all day.


    “Three” growls along like a Rolls right from the beginning, as the bluesy-balladic introduction of “The Fat Dance” gives way to hip-wigglin’ shooga-beat; you can almost see Vlatkovich sticking his slide in the air as he works out on the high notes and McLagen locks into a motivational solo. Huh! Huh! Variations on the boogie -- Afro-Caribe, syncopated bopulations, old-line tick-a-boom -- surface sequentially, with an overall whapping Ronald Shannon Jackson vibe permeating thanks to the sometimes rhythmically contrarian Lee, who knocks some unusual sounds out of his cymbals, such as the soft overlapping surf crashes he stirs up on “Somehow . . .”


    Vlatkovich must’ve envied the freedom Sonny Rollins enjoyed in those old trio sessions, and he shows that a sufficiently virtuosic trombonist can generate a similarly liberating atmosphere -- riffing, sliding, spitting out ambiguous split tones. A couple of free-improv tracks don’t kick quite as much tail, but they do give the group a chance to smear some fresh colors, notably via McLagen’s arco sustains.


    The recording by Craig Keyser and the editing/mastering by Wayne Peet maximize the sparse resources; you’d hardly know “Three” was recorded live in a Denver bookstore. Original/funny cover artwork by William Roper, too. An unexpected treasure, highly playable.

    Greg Burk & Friends, Words About Music

  • ART

    This Trio Cd marks the third recording utilizing this specific instrumentation. "No Zee Two Es" THANKYOU Records was the first and it featured Chris Garcia-drums and Anders Swanson-bass. "Queen Dynamo" Origin Records was the second and featured Ken Ollis-drums and Jonas Tauber-bass. Each of these Cd's is different not only because of the musicians and compositions, but also because of the performanceapproach/concept. In each, we explored the roles each performer takes in such an ensemble. On each Cd, shifting roles were employed with specific emphasis on certain strategies. The other notable difference is that this Cd was taken from a live performance. The others were studio recordings.





    MV013 TUNES

    Recorded live performance at West Side Books

    Denver, Co. 07-18-07 by Craig Keyser

    Edited and mastered by Wayne Peet 05-14-08

    Newsone Studio, Los Angeles

    All artwork and photography: Jill Torberson

    Graphic Design:  William Roper


    MV013 DISC


    MV013 DISC


    From the Sanctuary

    Michael Vlatkovich Quartet

    MS001  (2009)

    Available in DVD format.






    TRACK 00

    Sample from live performance.


    The people in the front are going to have a good time.

    The people in the back are going to have a good time too.


    Michael Vlatkovich – trombone / composition / arrangements

    David Mott – baritone sax / compositions / arrangements

    Jonathan Golove – electric cello

    Christopher Garcia - drums


    If this music is free in the sense of release formats, it is free as can be musicians who love jazz from start to finish and know the tip of the tongue and fingers. But no more free that Ellington for example, another time only, and its progeny, that of writing concocted for musicians chosen and well known.


    With four musicians, four desks, found writing Vlatkovich: science stamps un poco loco,delicious food made with common ingredients by a chef and a beautiful brigade. Do not look here new, but what fun! - The art of make fun of them make the happiness of others. Vlakovich grows a rare item the ability to value each; finesse and drive Garcia, flexible compact Mott, orchestral qualities Golove. Composer and arranger here gives his best to music of great dignity, finding his nobility not reject anyone, this song has everything that attracts us to the most radical practices of improvisation.


    The concert was filmed without unnecessary effects, the camera contained a pretty good look from one viewer to another. Intelligent use of fades and overlays can multiply the views and attract the viewer's attention a little lazy, or otherwise curious "how it is?". As for the sound, it seemed as good a computer allows to judge.

    Noel Tachet

  • ART



    MS001 INSIDE


    MS001 DISC




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