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

  • Extract (Drum Bone)

Collaboration with photographer, Richard Cline.

Music from unreleased material.


    subjective experience in a commercial free zone

    CD085  (2014)

    Available in CD format in envelope.


    TRACK 05

    If Only Maybe Were Probability




    CD085 (CD) (2014)



    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

    Tom McNalley – electric guitar

    Dominic Genova – electric bass

    John “Vatos” Hernandez – drums / percussion


    Fun is also the apt label for VLATKO Subjective Experience In A Commercial Free Zone (pfMENTUM CD085). The Top Jester is of course again Michael Vlatkovich, this time his slide speaks in collaboration with Tom McNalley on guitar, Dominic Genova, on electric bass volumes, and John 'Vatos' Hernandez on drums.


    This mohawk headed character ‘Vatos’ is filled with his experiences at Oingo Boingo (1978 - 1995), the cult B-movie playground of Hollywood celebrities Danny Elfman, and Tito & Tarantula (1996 - 2010), the house band in the Titty Twister for Salma Hayek's snake dance. This quartet (with less trash) but in humorous mood supports as 'Vatos' impresses with a finesse that few would risk.


    Instead of commercial potential, there are many sophisticated  instrumental surprises, one of which features McNalley as ‘Innocence from Portland’, where Vlatkovich, not without reason, lured him in 2004 to an LA already full of musicians where he introduced him to the mysteries of Ornette Coleman with the intense Sonny Sharrock and Nels Cline participating. With jazzy Zippy Fingerpicking like Kevin O'Neil he prances about breakneck Slitherblade, until transulcent wahs and squeals cascade boldly from his instrument.


    With all his rhythmic trotting and chirping Vlatkovich makes a memorable tune out of anything. (He could summon music from writhing snakes.) And then he manages to showcase McNalley (and he is seen here with an admiring grin).


    This music will inspire mental (ironic) agility, and even dreams… like 'If only maybe ...'

    [BA 82 rbd]  Translated from German with help from Google.


    The quartet Vlatko led by Michael Vlatkovich who is obviously back with his beloved trombone is also responsible for writing the compositions. Dominic Genova (electric bass), John 'Vatos' Hernandez ([Oingo Boingo], drums, percussion) and Tom McNalley (electric guitar) assist him in a set that leans closer to jazz. Improvisation again gives the central and leading role on this album for the strings pickers, McNalley lead. His guitar work meanders between rock, funk and experiment and is somewhat at odds with the jazzy way of drumming and sporadically emerging eviscerating trombone of Vlatkovich. Just because of these contrasts the eight pieces insist our attention. Vlatkovich is difficult to pin down so just one man therefore remains one of the most interesting figures in this scene.

    (Patrick Bruneel)

    TRANSLATION:  Google & CMB


    A new quartet led by trombonist Michael Vlatkovitch, more in a jazz-rock vein this time, with lots of room for guitarist Tom McNally and his wah-wah pedal. A bit show-off of an album, but well structured, with variations in intensity and angles and all that. Energizing.

    François Couture:


    Michael Vlatkovich lets his trombone lead a team of Tom McNalley/eg, Dominic Genova/eg and John “Vatos” Hernandez/dr through a collection of exciting and fresh originals. A hip bass line grooves on “Strodaad” while a deep drum rivulet permeats “Knowers…” The band can also get a bit frisky as ‘bone and guitar fight it out on “Motely Mountebanks” and the funky “Undoug Fug.” Blues and bop get into the act with a toe tapper “Saint Something…” Irreverent, but not irrelevant.

    George W. Harris October 9, 2014:


    With ‘Subjective Experience in a Commercial Free Zone’ we are more close to jazz realms. Vlatkovich is here in the company of Dominic Genova (electric bass), John ‘Vatos’Hernandez of Oingo Boingo-fame (drums, percussion) and Tom McNalley (electric guitar). Recorded a few months after the Here & Here & Here-album. It is especially McNalley’s guitar that impresses. He pulls a distorted, ‘plastic’ sounds from his guitar. His playing betrays experience with rock, funk and harmolodics. But McNalley developed his very own obstinate style. Great player. But also the others have their tricks and make this is a very enjoyable trip. From time to time it has swing and a groove, but with equal pleasure they depart into more free zones .




    West Coast purveyor of novel jazz concepts, trombonist and shrewd improviser, Michael Vlatkovich skirts the perimeters of expressionistic jazz rock and most all things jazz related, featuring electric guitarist Tom McNalley's impressive, quirky off-kilter voicings and stinging expeditions. It's a production that's framed on the outside schema, as the leader's compositions present a brooding and flourishing set of circumstances, built upon layers, abstractions, and the requisite improvisational encounters.


    The lengthy album title duly implies that Vlatkovich is blending a free form improv mindset into works that are structured and attainable. Hence, we get the best of both jazz worlds. The program is modeled with asymmetrical rhythms, swaying motifs and simmering ascents. Otherwise, McNally is a strong foil for the leader. On "In The Interest of Only Those Concerned," he comps with breezy chord clusters while adding a rather polite overtone, as the quartet eventually reformulates the piece, decorated with drummer John "Vatos" Hernandez' Latin overlays. However, the guitarists turns up the heat, armed with a foreboding search and conquer solo spot, followed by bassist Dominic Genova's exploratory lines.


    Vlatkovich tempers the frothy proceedings down a few notches on the ballad, "If Only Maybe Were a Probability," with his vividly soulful lines, supported by the band's warm accompaniment, but" Saint Something or Our Lady of Whatever" gels to an armada of mid-tempo bop phrasings that are deconstructed during the bridge section, where the guitarist's animated and penetrating solo casts a sense of despair. But Vlatkovich flips the scenario into a heated and swarming vibe via his blustery, hardboiled attack. It's an engrossing session that ages well, as slight revelations uncannily crop up on additional spins.

    Track Listing: Motely Mountebanks; In the Interest of Only Those Concerned STOP; Strodaad; Sometimes Always; If Only Maybe Were a Probability; Knowers Don't Know So Guessers Guess; Saint Something or Our Lady of Whatever; Undoug Fug = -(doug unfug).

    Glenn Astarita,  All About Jazz


    VLATKO is the electric quartet of volcanic hyperactive Los Angeles- trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, shown here recorded between March and April 2014. This music exists in a typically abundant and visceral Vlatkovich collaborative in a little roundabout of full-bodied music, sometimes even a bit superabundant, more often brilliantly resolved within ultimately physiological terms for a staff like that.


    The leader on the trombone is present in every fold, every crevice, every meander of the work, scoring and often just with his presence the most compelling moments of the songs, (specifically - we would say - the songs " Strodaad, " " If Only Maybe Were a Probability " and " Undoug Fug = - ( Doug Unfug ) ) , although all three partners are entirely present to give firmness and solidity to a music that guarantees a casual listening but not slavish. Often, indeed, liberating.

    Alberto Bazzurro, AllAbout Jazz 02-03-15



    DEM ‘BONES…Vlatko: Subjective Experience in a Commercial Free Zone, Here & Here & Here: Here & Here and Here

    A couple discs with trombones. Slide on in!

    Michael Vlatkovich lets his trombone lead a team of Tom McNalley/eg, Dominic Genova/eg and John “Vatos” Hernandez/dr through a collection of exciting and fresh originals. A hip bass line grooves on “Strodaad” while a deep drum rivulet permeats “Knowers…” The band can also get a bit frisky as ‘bone and guitar fight it out on “Motely Mountebanks” and the funky “Undoug Fug.” Blues and bop get into the act with a toe tapper “Saint Something…” Irreverent, but not irrelevant.


    Then, you’ve got Here & Here & Here which is made up again of Vlatkovich, but also with Anna Homler/voc-perc, Jeff Kaiser/tp-fh, Scott Walton/b and Rich West/dr on fifteen short but sweet free flying forms of frenzy. Vocal grunts from Tibet are on the title track, while horns growl like lions on “”Oranger Than Happiness.” Percussion goes free form on “Spark” and some Mahlerian moments pop up on “Salute.” Artsy to the point of musical Jackson Pollack!

    JAZZ WEEKLY by George W. Harris, October 9, 2014


    Rare t-bone

    Michael Vlatkovich has recorded with all sort of combos and collaborators, and he has proven to have a facile ear for that fine line between improv chaos and inspired genius. It helps that he's a trombonist, which is perhaps the most versatile of jazz instruments.


    On this set, Vlatkovich is joined by Tom McNalley (guitar and, um, voice), Dominic Genova (electric bass) and John Hernandez (drums, etc.). This is a more modern jazz quartet than is usual for Vlatkovich, and he does make use of a few old-fashioned fusion sounds. McNalley isn't a typical guitarist, though, and so any attempt to say these pieces "sound" like anything else would be silly.


    What I like about Vlatkovich in general is that he is able to bring accessible ideas into the extreme improve realm. Sometimes, these pieces can sound like "regular" jazz. That is, they are largely indistinguishable from some of the better-known, forward-thinking artists out there. But just when the groove seems settled, there's often a shift. Not a dive off a cliff, but a sense that life is not quite so ordered as it seems. Vlatkovich sets up his compositions to allow for examination and rumination, but he also keeps the trains running. And so while the journeys end as they should, the side trips can be quite the affair.


    Vlatkovich has been managing this trick for years, and he seems to be a standard-bearer for those who want to keep feet in both the traditional jazz and extreme improvisational worlds. Both arenas have their charms, and both can learn quite a bit from each other. Vlatkovich seems to have cherry-picked the best from each.


    As usual, each member has plenty of time to shine on this set. As I noted earlier, I am a sucker for a good trombone. While I played many other instruments, I think that the trombone may have the loveliest and most expressive sound around. It can coo or roar on command--and sound convincing either way. This is a lively, hang-out set for Vlatkovich. He and his mates aren't breaking new ground, but they've sown a fertile plot nonetheless. They've done all the work for us. All we have to do is enjoy.

    Jon Worley


    Trombonist Michael Vlatkovich leads the electric quartet Vlatko on subjective experience in a commercial free zone. The hour kicks off with the skeletal funk rock of motely mountebanks. It’s the first of eight Vlatkovich concoctions for this unit. This one features a wonderfully twisted electric guitar solo by Tom McNalley, heavy with lyricism and electronic effects. Vlatkovich contributes a suave and tender trombone solo, and electric bassist Dominic Genova and drummer John “Vatos” Hernandez get to play a duet. There’s more hot guitar on in the interest of only those concerned STOP along with Genova on electric bass prodding and answering the guitar lines before playing a strong solo of his own. The particular bass and drums connection that Genova and Hernandez display is one of the disc’s special pleasures. Genova’s smoothly melodic rumbling on bass and Hernandez’ carefully tuned drums and deliberate playing keep the music well-grounded. The opening passage of knowers don’t know so guessers guess is a good example, as the pair establishes an eccentric groove as a setting for McNalley’s thin, spiky guitar. The disc’s most plainly beautiful moments come during the oh, so pretty if only maybe were a possibility, a feature for a sweet and unironic trombone solo. More often, the beauty is of a more complex variety, lying in the interplay of the instrumental voices and the textures of the ensemble playing. As a bandleader, Vlatkovich has shown a real knack for combining players with distinctively individual voices on their instruments and making wholly satisfying music. With Vlatko, he’s done it again. Happily recommended.

    pfMENTUM CD085; Michael Vlatkovich (tb) Tom McNalley (el g) Dominic Genova (el b) John “Vatos” Hernandez (d, perc); Los Angeles, CA, March 19 & April 3, 2014; motely mountebanks/ in the interest of only those concerned STOP/ strodaad/ sometimes always/ if only maybe were a possibility/ knowers don’t know so guessers guess/ saint something or our lady of whatever/ undoug fug =-(doug unfug); 59:53.

    Stuart Kremsky



    Vlatko is the volcanic electric quartet of the hyperactive Los Angeles-trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, in the studio between March and April 2014. They dwell in the visceral, the typical Vlatkovich energy in all its creative manifestations, for a full bodied music, sometimes even a little abundant, often very well resolved by the finale in all accounts for a staff like that.


    The trombone of the rampant leader in every fold, every crevice, every meander of the work, in fact scoring often just with his presence the most compelling moments of the same (in this case-we would say-the songs "Strodaad," "If Only Maybe Were a Probability "and" Undoug Fug = - (Doug Unfug)), although in full all three partners are doing their part to give firmness and solidity to a music that offers casual listening but not slavish. Often, indeed, liberating .


    Track Listing: Motely Mountebanks; In the interest of Only Those Concerned STOP; Strodaad; Sometimes Always; If Only Maybe Were a Probability; Knowers guessers Guess I Do not Know; Saint Something or Our Lady of Whatever; Undoug Fug = - (Doug Unfug).


    Personnel: Michael Vlatkovich: trombone; Tom McNalley: electric guitar; Dominic Genova: electric bass; Vatos John Hernandez: drums, percussion.

    Alberto Bazzurro - 03/02/2015      Translated from Italian:  Google & CMB


  • ART



    CD085 DISC

  • Here & Here & Here

    CD084  (2014)

    Available in CD format.


    TRACK 02

    Here & Here & Here




    CD084 (CD) (2014)



    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 / percussion

    Anna Homler - vocal

    Jeff Kaiser - trumpet / flugelhorn

    Scott Walton - acoustic bass

    Rich West - drums / percussion


    These talented men pay musical courtship to Anna Homler. They increased their appeal by capricious meowing and cooing vocalizations, which one can interpret as anything. And with toy noises that I, well, can only describe as teasing the horns bend over backwards snorting and whinnying, with red face and swollen comb. Homler cloaks herself, responding with decoys, evasions and mystery, rattles full of needles, disguised with throat singing flirts. What is 'Big Doors Little Windows' other than: Large flap, small ...? Yearning admirers provide a saucy comeback with: 'Your Ark Is Waiting'. Mint vapors makes the guys so tame that they squeak a cacophony of compressed screatches like big cats wolf-whistling up the object of their desire. As with their Kelpland Serenades with Steuart Liebig she wakes saucy Motte longings, although only thunderous silence on the 'Thunderous Silence' encounter, but ultimately not really frustrating, because fantasmagoric belongs to the fun of Looney Tunes, for a soundscape goofyness that provides entertainment enough.

    [BA 82 rbd]


    If there ever is a pfMENTUM Records all-star band, this is it: Anna Homler, Jeff Kaiser, Michael Vlatkovich, Scott Walton, and Rich West. Fifteen short improvisations (two go over seven minutes, but most are under four) that cover a wide range of emotions, contrasts, and forms of tension. Homler, glorious as always with her delicate vocalization and misfit noise-making toys; Vlatkovitch and Kaiser vocalizing with her via trombone and trumpet; Walton and West forming a wild, unpredictable rhythm section. Honestly, Here & Here & Here could be on of the very best free improvisation releases of 2014. Don’t let this one pass by.

    François Couture's music journalism and activism


    (Michael Vlatkovich) always plays with the cream of the scene in Los Angeles, where he resides since 1973. He actually comes from St. Louis, Missouri. After school pulled the improvisation scene in the metropolis so on, he packed up his stuff in his hometown. Since then he honked an impressive body of work together in the service of others or with a variety of ensembles, trios and quartets. Sometimes it takes several recordings with the same people, but he rather likes it more challenging and there is always talk of occupation orders and new projects. So once again, with Here & Here & Here surprising experimental coming from the corner. Vlatkovich plays subdued on his trombone and adds some percussion increasing. Buddy, Jeff Kaiser plays trumpet, Scott Walton plays an acoustic bass and Rich West, who like Kaiser has an impressive catalog, plays drums. All four, however, serving voice artist, Anna Homler, who not only displays her vocal antics, but also some percussion. The title track seems to contain didgeridoo, but is probably manipulated voice that integrates perfectly into the restrained interplay of these virtuoso improvisers. The men have been played so much in this kind of settings, that the looking at each other can is hardly necessary. They give each other ample space and yet Homler is dominating the plate. Her nonverbal sounds are pretty impressive and fit perfectly with the music. This cannot be called chamber jazz. This is a strange kind of experimental avant-garde that captivates all along the line.

    (Patrick Bruneel)

    TRANSLATION:  Google & CMB


    Then, you’ve got Here & Here & Here which is made up again of Vlatkovich, but also with Anna Homler/voc-perc, Jeff Kaiser/tp-fh, Scott Walton/b and Rich West/dr on fifteen short but sweet free flying forms of frenzy. Vocal grunts from Tibet are on the title track, while horns growl like lions on “”Oranger Than Happiness.” Percussion goes free form on “Spark” and some Mahlerian moments pop up on “Salute.” Artsy to the point of musical Jackson Pollack!

    George W. Harris October 9, 2014:


    Trombonist Michael Vlatkovich continues to surprise. First it are the line ups of these two new projects that make me curious. Here & Here & Here is Anna Homler (vocal, percussion),

    Jeff Kaiser (trumpet, flugelhorn), Scott Walton (acoustic bass),  Rich West (drums, percussion) and Michael Vlatkovich (trombone, percussion). Recordings date from January this year. Of both records this is the most avant garde. Not sure this is completely improvised, but improvisation is a dominant element in these excursions where the players abstract from rhythm, melody and obvious thematic developments. They create open structures that receive shape through the concentrated interplay by the players. Homler sings her non-verbal lines that integrate very well with the patterns played by other musicians. Its music that is beyond jazz. More a kind of modern improvised chamber music. Very sophisticated and to the point music.




    The curiously titled Here & Here & Here is the experimental quintet comprised of Michael Vlatkovich (trombone, percussion), Anna Homler (vocal, percussion), Jeff Kaiser (trumpet, flugelhorn), Scott Walton (acoustic bass), and Rich West (drums, percussion). If none of these names rings a bell then you've probably not yet made the proper mental connection with California's more adventurous experimental/improvisational music scene. Recorded in a single day (January 20, 2014), this self-titled album is a pure dose of experimental magic. Many folks think that anyone can just pick up a musical instrument and improvise. But the truth is that great improvisation is a skill that is actually practiced and learned over time...although some do seem to have more of an initial knack for it than others. It's kinda like stream-of-consciousness conversation. Some of it is just dribble...while in other cases it can be incredibly stimulating and intriguing. These five musicians are extremely good at what they do...and it seems miraculous that they could have recorded all of this in a single day. Perplexing tracks include "Dragon Beware," "Round Triangles," "Salute," "Choir Hose," and "Potozo."

  get the male voice of Mark Weber delivering poetry along with Carol Sawyer’s avant garde soprano voice in the background on this collection of free form music and words. The instrumentation includes Michael Vlatkovich/tb, Steve Bagnell/ts-bcl, Lisa Miller/p and Clyde Reed/b. All of these artists generally provide free improvisation that sometimes serves as punctuation as on “Poem 8” and other times for obligattos. There is a jam on “Winter Things” which focus’ on the trombone, but for the most part, the mood here is a late 50s parlor for the beat generation. Is this a 60 year reunion?

    JAZZ WEEKLY, by George W. Harris , June 11, 2015



    DEM ‘BONES…Vlatko: Subjective Experience in a Commercial Free Zone, Here & Here & Here: Here & Here and Here

    A couple discs with trombones. Slide on in!

    Michael Vlatkovich lets his trombone lead a team of Tom McNalley/eg, Dominic Genova/eg and John “Vatos” Hernandez/dr through a collection of exciting and fresh originals. A hip bass line grooves on “Strodaad” while a deep drum rivulet permeats “Knowers…” The band can also get a bit frisky as ‘bone and guitar fight it out on “Motely Mountebanks” and the funky “Undoug Fug.” Blues and bop get into the act with a toe tapper “Saint Something…” Irreverent, but not irrelevant.


    Then, you’ve got Here & Here & Here which is made up again of Vlatkovich, but also with Anna Homler/voc-perc, Jeff Kaiser/tp-fh, Scott Walton/b and Rich West/dr on fifteen short but sweet free flying forms of frenzy. Vocal grunts from Tibet are on the title track, while horns growl like lions on “”Oranger Than Happiness.” Percussion goes free form on “Spark” and some Mahlerian moments pop up on “Salute.” Artsy to the point of musical Jackson Pollack!

    JAZZ WEEKLY by George W. Harris, October 9, 2014






    PERSONNEL: Vlatkovich, tbn, perc; Anna Homler, vcl, perc; Jeff Kaiser, tpt, flgh; Scott Walton, b; Rich West, d, perc. January 20, 2014, Los Angeles, CA.

    Trombonist Michael Vlatkovich leads acoustic sessions in the free jazz mode on his two recent CDs. A look at some of the tune titles, especially from the first recording, makes it no surprise that Vlatkovich’s original music has a non-standard or enigmatic character. (1), released in 2013, features Vlatkovich and trumpeter Jim Knodle over an open-sounding two-piece rhythm section of Phil Sparks on bass and Greg Campbell on drums. It is a mostly unencumbered set, occasionally with some recognizable musical structure (as on “fools, drunks & angels”) and interaction of horns (on “i liberate monsters”). On his more recent 2014 recording (2), Vlatkovich employs a quintet, with vocalist Anna Homler freely providing unusual vocal sounds on several selections. Vlatkovich and trumpet/flugelhornist Jeff Kaiser form an interesting duo on “Round Triangles” and on other selections play off each other with support from Scott Walton on bass and Rich West on drums and percussion. Vlatkovich and Homler double on percussion, so that three group members were available to provide sounds such as tapping, clicking, ringing, squeaking, and jungle and animal sounds which may be heard frequently throughout the recording.

    Cadence, Don Lerman, CD review from Volume 40, No. 1: January issue

    For more information, go to


  • ART



    CD084 DISC

  • Multitudes Telepathic

    CD078  (2013)

    Available in CD format.


    TRACK 02

    Poem 2




    CD078 (CD) (2013)



    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 / percussion

    Clyde Reed – electric upright bass

    Dave Wayne – drumset  / percussion

    Mark Weber – poem cycle


    Another remarkable output for the trombonist and composer on the West Coast, Michael Vlatkovich. "Multitudes Telepahic" moves along improvised coordinates, hot with rhythmic tension (swing and the dark of night) from New Orleans.  To give a hand to the trombonist, we find Clyde Reed electric bass, Dave Wayne on drums and percussion and Mark Weber, poetic cycles in overdubbing.


    Ten instantly pleasing and slightly amphetamine compositions, a little loopy with beatnik grace.

    Straight and circular structures, perfect anchorage for the free movements of Vlatkovich.   Skew and de-structuring and dangling more than a touch of irony. Without too much tread left on the feet, the CD enters into phase repeat.  Well done.

    June 2nd 2014  Reviewer: Mark Carcasi rating: Hits: 92


    Los Angeles-veteran trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, after the breach for over forty years. In Santa Fe, in September 2012, he recorded Multitudes Telepathic, actually quartet more nominally than in fact. There is indeed the classic trio with bass and drums, with the last vertex of the quadrilateral formed by the voice (not in the sense of a singer, but of "telling") of Mark Weber (over all overdubbed almost a year later, in August 2013), which leadsme to propose cyclically (with do some grimness, actually) miniatures poetic.


    Its impact on the overall product is so relative: to lead the dances is the trio, continuing to move without too many stakes pre-defined, but with remarkable unity of tone (slightly dark, sure to envite thoughtfullness) and outcomes still appreciable, although with the passing songs situations tend a bit to repeat themselves. Noteworthy are: "Poem 2," the staid "Always," the round "Poem 5," the polypercussive "Clicking." Beyond a degree of uniformity, an album facinating to possess.

    Albewrto Bazzurro, Oct 7, 2014:

    Translation:  Google & CMB


    ... new releases by the 1999-founded pfMentum-label run by Jeff Kaiser. Both by trombonist Michael Vlatkovich who normally releases his music through his own label Thank You Records. Vlatkovich is a prominent musician from the Californian jazz scene, already for several decades. This time he is featured in two different line ups. As Multitudes Telepathic Vlatkovich (trombone, percussion) is in the company of Clyde Reed (electric upright bass), Dave Wayne (drumset, percussion) and Mark Weber (poem cycle), a Californian poet, writer and photographer with strong affinities to music and especially jazz. His poems, spoken by Weber himself, were over-dubbed and fit in perfectly. Subtle and inspired playing by Vlatkovich and his mates makes this one worthwhile.




    If you don’t enjoy spoken-word with well-played jazz/improv – move on to the next record rack… but if (like me), you find the marriage of these two art forms to be the supreme turn-on – you’ve GOT to GET this one!  Pieces like the 8:49 “Poem 2” will keep you enrapt & you’ll find yourself spinning it over & over again, looking for clues in Mark’s words, or subtle shadings with meaning in Michael’s trombone.  I’ve been following Mark Weber for many, many years now & believe his poetry is among the best on the scene today & will stay that way well into the next century.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for lovers of spoken-word jazz.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 5.00 – which means it also get the “PICK” of this issue for “best spoken-word jazz”.

    Dick Metcalf, aka Rotcod Zzaj


    Another Vlatkovich-related project, here in a jazz trio that sounds a bit beatnik, a bit interzone, with Clyde Reed on electric upright bass and Dave Wayne on drums. Short, smoked-filled pieces, on which Mark Weber later overdubbed rather biting poems delivered in a dry, slightly ironic voice. Multitudes Telepathic exhales something suave and nicely antiquated.

    François Couture Journal d'écoute / Listening Diary






    PERSONNEL: Michael Vlatkovich (tb, perc), Clyde Reed (el upright b), Dave Wayne (d, perc), Mark We-ber (poem cycle); instruments September 22, 2012, Santa Fe, NM, poems August 10, 2013, Los Ange-les, CA.

    With the instrumental trio of trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, bassist Clyde Reed, and percussionist Dave Wayne freely improvising a series of pieces in September 2012 and Mark Weber overdubbing snippets of poetry almost a year later, how could the resulting mash-up be anything other than unusual? And indeed, Multitudes Telepathic is a unique experience. From just a couple of clues, namely the titles to track 2 (“Poem 2") and track 5 (“Poem 5 Is a Dance”), it would appear that the poetry was generated in response to the music, but these tricksters don’t bother to tell us how this all worked. Truth to tell, I’m not a huge fan of poetry and improvisation, and I admit I was expecting the worst, so it’s a pleasant surprise to find how much I enjoy these tracks. Weber’s gravelly voice flies in and out of the mix with laid-back readings of lines like “What am I doing here, telling you things you probably already know, don’t need to know in any case...” Most of the playing time is given over to the trio’s pungent exercises in sculpted sound, generally low-key with a keenly egalitarian feeling. Vlatkovich and Reed work together frequently in saxophonist Rich Halley’s groups, and their extensive experience sharing the bandstand gives them a solid foundation to work from. Percussionist Wayne works extensively in the Santa Fe area, and his sensitivity and drive are a real asset to the music. “Trees” is a particular favorite, with its tensile groove and broadly phrased trombone solo. Only on the closing track, “The Circle,” does Weber fall into the trap of overthinking and growing a bit pretentious, but even this piece is redeemed by the seductive mystery of Clyde Reed’s unhurried bass part. When Weber intones “You don’t expect that, but anything’s possible” on “Clicking,” it seems to apply not just to the random clicking device he found that provokes his poem, but to the entire project. No, you really can’t expect anything in particular when improvisers are involved, and yes, anything is possible, including this decidedly uncommon gem.

    Cadence, Stuart Kremsky, CD review from Volume 40, No. 1: January issue.   For more information, go to


  • ART



    CD078 DISC

  • You're too dimensional.

    Michael Vlatkovich Quartet

    CD077  (2013)

    Available in CD and

    Digital Download formats


    TRACK 06

    blue peepers




    CDO77 (CD) (2013)



    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 – compositions / trombone

    Jim Knodle – trumpet

    Phil Sparks – bass

    Greg Campbell – drums / french horn


    Michael Vlatkovich Quartet - You're Too Dimensional (CD, pfMENTUM, Modern jazz) This album arrived in our trusty mailbox without any accompanying information. But because we've reviewed Michael Vlatkovich's music before...and because the CD was released by the fine folks at pfMENTUM label we knew it would be great. is. Vlatkovich is one of the best improvisational trombone players around and his music never fails to please. Clocking in at just under an hour, the humorously titled You're Too Dimensional offers a mighty nice and satisfying slice of modern jazz music. Spontaneity is the key word here as Vlatkovich and his comrades feed off one another's energies...creating some strangely moody and intoxicating music. Joining Michael on these tracks are Jim Knodle on trumpet, Phil Sparks on bass, and Greg Campbell on drums and french horn. The players are focused and proficient from start to finish. Ten curious tracks here with titles that are even more curious. Our favorite cuts include "No Candy For the Wagon Full of Devils," "Blue Peepers," "The Curious Intensity of a Refrigerator Defrosting," and "Fools, Drunks & Angels." Way cool stuff with cool exotic vibes.

    LMNOP Reviews


    MICHAEL VLATKOVICH QUARTET You're too dimensional. (pfMENTUM CD077) : Michael Vlatkovich, Trombonist from the West Coast, which could be heard for years as a team player in larger formations (Vinny Golia Large Ensemble, Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet, Mark Weaver Brassum ), then had with his Across 36 Continents (2005) and An Autobiography of A Pronoun (2011) and then his Ensemblios releases. Then he focused on smaller forces with ALiveBUQUERQUE (2003/ 07), the Vlatkovich Tryyo Pershing Woman (2010/12) and yet another trio with three3 (2007/ 20) and succulence of abstraction (2011 /13). So here in combination with Phil Sparks (a veteran of the Seattle scene), and on bass Greg Campbell (with his experience with Mike Bisio and Wally Shoup) on drums and trumpeter Jim Knodle, another Seattle player (with the likes of Lesli Dalaba and Amy Denio, and with Michael Owcharuk Ukrainian punk - jazz, sarcastic with The Fred Roth Revue Retro -Wave and even with KMFDM.) You're too dimensional. is fun and it is cool (in the old Mulligan-Baker format) and it is animated with humor, from 'mOOn jOOiia' (whatever that might be it) we hear Vlatkovich voice his changes. With 'the curious intensity of a refrigerator thawing' and with 'blue Peeper' mentioning only two of his funny high-flown titles... the aim of this music: to nudge us from one equilibrium to another, and to release fun little monsters into the world. Vlatkovich composed and directed all this uncluttered swing that never treats us like children. This is the abolute antidote against attacks of Antiseattleitus .

    [BA 79 rbd] Rigobert Dittmann (Translated from German with help from Google)


    Michael Vlatkovich Quartet: You're Too Dimensional (2013) Record Label: pfMentum Longtime and prominent affiliate of California's progressive jazz sector, trombonist Michael Vlatkovich has nurtured strong relationships with multi-reedman Vinny Golia, tenor saxophonist Rich Halley and others of note. Yet Vlatkovich has long been considered as one of the finest improvising trombonist's within modern jazz and the avant-garde jazz spectrums. He's comfortable in a variety of settings, while recently cutting some vibrant trio outings for his independent label, Thank You Records. With this outing he reemerges with a quartet formation and shares the frontline with eminent trumpeter Jim Knodel. Other than some of the boisterous in-your-face breakouts, the quartet engages in quite a few popping, bump and grind jaunts framed on hearty improvisational segments. They get their juices flowing by also implementing shuffle grooves amid various cadences and expressive conversational patterns. At times, the hornists probe and interrogate each other's thought processes with droning extended notes or when lashing out in garrulous fashion. The album contains a diverse track mix. For example, the musicians gel to a loping, medium-tempo pulse on the bluesy and somewhat staggered "mOOn jOOiia," and execute a knock-down, drag-out and loosely organized romp during "Blue Peepers," where each musician receives ample time to stretch out. Moreover, various movements are devised on a building-block approach and others are framed on odd- metered unison choruses, gushing with the frontline's impassioned exchanges. The quartet finalizes the program with "Fools Drunks & Angels." Here, drummer Greg Campbell's rolling and tumbling attack tenders a fluidly energizing and cyclical support, as the horn-men's burning linear choruses deliver the KO punch. Overall, You're Too Dimensional uncannily aligns a good-timey group demeanor with serious-minded improvisation and the musicians significant technical faculties. Hence, the spry group camaraderie transfers to disc in a rather huge way. Track Listing: Various Manifestations of Thwart & Opine for Curved Bill Thrasher & Toy Piano in 4 Parts; No Candy for the Wagon Full of Devils; The Curious Intensity of a Refrigerator Defrosting; Wishing for 2 at 5/3; mOOn jOOiia; Blue Peepers; The Static Equilibrium of the Values of Savagery; I Liberate Monsters; Balance Out of Life Out of Balance; Fools Drunks & Angels. Personnel: Michael Vlatkovich: compositions, trombone; Jim Knodle: trumpet; Phil Sparks: bass; Greg Campbell: drums, French horn (9).

    GLENN ASTARITA, Published: December 10, 2013, ALL ABOUT JAZZ

    "You're too dimensional."


    Robert Bush’s Ten Best Releases of 2013



    If you’ve listened to Michael’s trombone work before – you’re in for a very pleasant surprise…. it’s always good to listen to him, of course, but this is the most solid jazz set I’ve ever heard him on before, as witnessed by the great “Fools, Drunks and Angels” track… 6:36 worth of seconds packed with true sonic adventure!  I also found the tune “The Curious Intensity of a Refrigerator Defrosting” to be most aurally attractive.  With all that said, I’ll toss in a cautionary note…. if you think you’re going to escape this with your mind intact – you’ve got another think coming – this isn’t “just jazz”, “smoove jazz”, or any other “jazz nonsense”…. pure, straight-ahead jazz exploration for those with adventure in their blood!

    I give Michael & crew Improvijazzation Nation Issue 141  Music & Opinion for the 21st Century Rotcod Zzaja MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.


    The West Coast jazz scene continues to be vibrant. It may not make headlines over here in the east, but there is vital music being made there. Michael Vlatkovich, trombonist and composer, has certainly been one of the important voices for some time now. He returns with a quartet lineup on the recent You're Too Dimensional (pfMENTUM 077).


    In addition of course to Michael V. there is Jim Knodle on trumpet, Phil Sparks on acoustic bass, and Greg Campbell on drums and a very respectable French horn.


    The music is modern in the free-composed vein we expect from Vlatkovich. He is one of the free trombonists at the top of his game out there and that is clear from the new album. Jim Knodle adds a vibrant second voice in the front line, with an inventiveness that complements Michael's both in terms of solo utterances but also in a two-way improvised polyphony at times--three-way when Greg Campbell takes up his French horn.


    Phil Sparks does riffs with good variations at times when the music has a rock-funk rhythmic underpinning and can walk well, free zone, put down rhythmically and noteful foundations that set things up nicely. He can solo with interesting and effective results. Greg Campbell propulses the band with a nice feel from the drum chair (or rather the throne, as drum manufacturers call it).


    Some (not all) of this reminds slightly of M-Base and/or Dave Holland's band of some years ago when they did contrapuntal funk. But only referentially, not in some imitative way.

    Vlatkovich sounds limber and up. The compositions stimulate and the band swings, rocks and frees up in nice ways. This may not be his best album to start out with if you do not know his music, but it satisfies and shows him once again a critical member of the West coastal jazz coterie.

    Grego Applegate Edwards at 6:15 AM April 15, 2014


    A weird energy that animates the Michael Vlatkovich Quartet is among the most important scenes of the West Coast. These excellent musicians lead you through a tangle of rhythmic figures evoking hot New Orleans nights and sweaty shirts.  Avant-jazz spontaneous, conversational and friendly. The mood moves generally in average time, with hypnotic structures and beautiful lines for the horns. At times, almost a retelling of the traditional band blues and jazz of New Orleans. These guys are laughing up their sleeves with titles such as: The Curious Intensity Of A Refrigerator Defrosting.

    Mark Carcasi May 18th 2014

    Translation: Google & CMB


    Trombonist and pfMENTUM fixture Michael Vlatkovich maxes his track title word count credit card once more for his umpteenth recorded appearance on that productive, non-profit jazz label. Like the preceding trio recording, Pershing Woman, You’re Too Dimensional finds Michael and a new coterie of cohorts comfortably at sixes and sevens: gracefully stretching and flexing brass limbs across their play space, while avoiding collision at every turn. As stream-of-consciousness as Vlatkovich’s signature composition titles, the group’s regular decelerations to deconstruction speed allow us to examine in detail every ruddy-cheeked interaction. The resulting sky of strangely angled skywriting (and sometimes low-energy fizzle) may not always offer balm to weary souls, but by way of ballast it mostly moves in a rounded rhythmic manner to ensure finger pops remain close to hand. The pace is bouncy, for instance, where ‘Pershing’ left me out of breath. The successful blending of tempos is most successfully sustained through the ten minutes of ‘blue peepers’, which gifts each player with generous solo time, Jim Knodle’s warm trumpet-muting being the stand out element.


    I’m not sure as to the extent of Vlatkovich’s role as ‘composer’ though, because notated ‘melody’ seems ever subordinated to melodic mannerism; the ever-reliable Knodle, Phil Sparks (bass) and Greg Campbell (drums, French horn) proceeding through their palette of earthy tones with apparent autonomy. It certainly works to his benefit though that Vlatkovich has kept instrumentation quite conventional, spurring as it does his seasoned players to maximise their performance potential. A violin would have jammed up the works something awful. So all seems well enough, though I’ve gotta say, the 5-minute Photoshop cover does favours for no one, even if it does seem appropriately redolent of west its coast jazz provenance. Pay that bit no mind.

    Written by Stuart Marshall


    In Seattle, in February 2013, Vlatkovich returned to the office at the head of his own quartet, much more brassy, since his trombone (which here has certainly more comfortable room to expand in all its fragrances), join the trumpet of Jim Knodle and, on two tracks, French horn Greg Campbell, for the rest sitting behind the drums.


    The pace of the group is vital, all played in the sign of a choral solid and round, the sound is plastic, powerful, well-turned, very rewarding ear, in practice the classic "what you wanted to ask a brass quartet (but not always you have had ...).  Without major upheavals or songs-watershed, the best things seem to come at the beginning (first four pieces) and the end (the last two), in a work-for-you... will understand that commonality is the qualitative main trump. Maybe without brilliant inventions, but also without failure whatsoever.

    Albewrto Bazzurro, Oct 7, 2014:

    Translation:  Google & CMB


    This one features Vlatkovich’ quartet, and has Jim Knodle on trumpet, Phil Sparks playing bass, Greg Campbell drums and Vlatkovich again on trombone. All compositions are by Vlatkovich. Again outstanding and inspired playing, not to forget by Knodle on trumpet. This is jazz of a very lively and solid kind, without entering too far into avant garde or experimental territories. No extended techniques, electronics, or whatever. Just very capable players who engage fully in the compositions of Vlatkovich.




    Consistency and resilience are high in Michael Vlatkovich’s top qualities. The trombonist has just released a new album with his longstanding quartet (w/ Jim Knodle, Phil Sparks, and Greg Campbell). The dual-horn front line (trumpet + trombone)  is hot, the rhythm section is supple, and Vlatkovich’s compositions are as witty and humorous as ever. In fact, humour is what brings me back to Vlatkovich’s music – that, and his trombone playing.

    François Couture Journal d'écoute / Listening Diary


    Another disc from Mr. Vlatkovich and friends, and more to come!

    The Michael Vlatkovich Quartet digs right in from the first downbeat on the stirring You’re too dimensional. Vlatkovich, the prolific composer, trombonist and bandleader wrote all the tunes, as a glance at the titles will let you know if you’ve been following his recordings. I don’t think that there’s anyone else who would call a song the curious intensity of refrigerator defrosting. While that seems like a title from someone who doesn’t get out much, Vlatkovich’s many ongoing projects and associations all across America make it clear that that isn’t the case. This quartet was recorded in Seattle featuring Jim Knodle on trumpet, frequently sparring with Vlatkovich’s trombone in the front line, plus Phil Sparks on bass and Greg Campbell on drums and occasional French horn. With exemplary focus and cohesion, they explore Vlatkovich’s imaginative musical world of sinuous melodies, acrid brass harmonies, tempo-shifting games and dry wit. Particularly effective are the stirring opener various manifestations of thwart & opine for curved bill thrasher & toy piano in 4 parts with its slip and slide horn parts, blue peepers with a tough, slithery groove under pungent brass solos and a snappy drum solo, the slowly but persistently accelerating I liberate monsters, and the fractured soundscape of fools drunks & angels. Recommended.

    pfMENTUM CD077; Jim Knodle (t) Michael Vlatkovich (tb) Phil Sparks (b) Greg Campbell (d; Fr hn on *); Seattle WA, February 2, 2013; various manifestations of thwart & opine for curved bill thrasher & toy piano in 4 parts/ no candy for the wagon full of devils/ the curious intensity of refrigerator defrosting*/ wishing for 2 at 5/3/ mOOn jOOiia/ blue peepers/ the static equilibrium of the values of savagery/ I liberate monsters/ balance out of life out of balance*/ fools drunks & angels; 59:37.

    Stuart Kremsky


  • ART



    CD077 DISC ART


    (05:05)   1. various manifestations of thwart & opine for curved

                      bill thrasher & toy piano in 4 parts

    (02:48)    2.    no candy for the wagon full of devils

    (08:15)    3.   the curious intensity of a refrigerator defrosting *

    (04:24)    4.   wishing for 2 at 5/3

    (06:26)    5.   mOOn jOOiia

    (10:04)    6.   blue peepers

    (06:25)    7.   the static equilibrium of the values of savagery

    (06:50)    8.   i liberate monsters

    (02:32)    9.   balance out of life out of balance *

    (06:32)  10.  fools drunks & angels


     59:37     TOTAL



    Recorded in Seattle 2-2-13 Doug Hare – Engineer, Sonarchy Radio

    Edited, Mixed & Mastered 5-01 / 02-13

    Wayne Peet - Engineer, Newzone Studio, Los Angeles

    Chuck Britt - Design



  • succulence of abstraction

    MV015  (2013)

    Available in CD format.


    TRACK 01

    commander jeka




    MV015 (CD) (2013)




    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

    Kent McLagen - bass

    Chris Lee - drums


    A true triangulation of melody and attitude animates the trombone, bass and drnms trio of Michael Vlatkovich, Kent McLagan & Chris Lee. Succ11le11ce Of Abstraction documents

    a club performance in Albuquerque, with each of the themes, composed by Vlatkovich, linked to the next via brief drum or bass solos. ln spite of the minimalist setting, the music never flags, thanks to Vlatkovich's flair for inventive phrasing, bassist McLagan's steady pulse and

    Lee's crisp and understated drumming. Ylatkovich is a broadly expressive and adroit trombonist who thrives in small group projects that balance composition and open-ended

    improvisation. Most of the music this time out has a mournful and melancholy fee ling. It's a fairly quiet hour, with the occasional high-velocity outburst (see Merle & Neil and Unknown

    Known). With its exceptional unity of feeling and spirit, Succulence Of Abstraction is a keeper, one of those special dates that will reward repeated listenings.

    IAJRC Journal Vol.46, No3 – September 2013



    This is unagitated jazz. It’s clear and limpid. This is substantial, important jazz and it’s the jazz of this time.


    You’ve got Michael Vlatkovich. He’s a discrete trombone-player and a thoughtful, adept composer.   You’ve got Kent McLagen. He’s a cordial and generous contrebass player. His playing seeks out every interstice to transform it into a new launchpad or a sinkhole.  You’ve got Chris Lee. He’s a drummer with sparkling cymbals and a bewitching lightness.


    You’ve got above all a trio that ventures into the natural rythmic and idea moguls from riff to riff – rather than theme to theme—with an astonishing dexterity.


    This is jazz that loves density but equally loves empty space. It’s balanced, powerful and persuasive jazz. It’s jazz that does not bore you. It’s jazz that lets down its hot hair and never stops enchanting you. How long HAS it been since we’ve heard anything like this?



    Trombonists don’t typically have the audacity to be featured with no chordal help like a piano or guitar, but I can’t imagine Mike Vlatkovich performing any other way. The adventurous trombone specialist performs with verve and wit, but his technique is also fundamentally sound, too. Those attributes were hard to miss when checking out Rich Halley’s various releases covered here over the last several years, and it’s even more difficult to escape notice when Vlatkovich heads up his own band.


    Succulence of Abstraction is the second for this certain rendition of the Michael Vlatkovich Trio, featuring Kent McLagen on bass and Chris Lee on drums. Recorded live in Albuquerque, the little combo rips through fifteen of Vlatkovich’s originals where his humor already surfaces in the titles, like “Faith Beads and Other Amusements,” “I Let My Magic Tortoise Go,” and “The Snakes Always Talk About Ill Fitting Clothes On The Chickens.” Except for the final track “Always Connection,” all the songs were performed in alphabetical order. But, let’s talk about the music…


    First of all, music like this, so austere, extemporary and emotionally direct, is better served in a live setting, so shunning the studio makes perfect sense, here. Also, this is actually two uninterrupted sets lasting fifty-nine minute combined, with each set subdivided into seven and eight tracks, respectively. In other words, it’s a couple of medleys.


    Vlatkovich & Co. do perform composed music but feel is the larger component. And these guys are aware that feel means a lot more than just chops. Compared to his work with Halley, the leader is calculating more, since he’s carrying a bigger load in the small combo so he makes his notes particularly laconic. The trio goes down harmonic paths they rarely or never revisit again, sometimes swingin’, sometimes groovin’.


    The interaction between Vlatkovich and McLagen is a main focal point, sometimes they sync up on melodic lines and other times they’re going on separate, parallel paths, and McLagen assumes front line duties as an equal with Vlatkovich as well as holding down the bottom, and he does both with ease. Lee has an appropriately light touch on his drums, preferring to make impressions with complex, interesting patter over boisterous beats. The Talentless Judging The Overreaching, stands out from the rest of the fare because McLagen puts a bow to his bass and all three are playing sans tempo; it’s a closely connected three-way improvisation.


    Mike Vlatkovich and his Trio make no-nonsense, highly improvisational jazz that travels across nearly every mood and thrives in the moment. You can’t ask for more than that in a live jazz show. That’s just what some folks in New Mexico got that day, and what everyone else will get from this fine document of that concert.

    Fusion Jazz, Uncategorized June 23, 2013 at 9:14 am



    This 'succulence of abstraction' CD is excellent... or should I say succulent! Trombonist Michael Vlatkovich in a jazz trio setting with double bass (McLagen) and drums (Lee). A live recording from August 2011. Fifteen short numbers segued seamlessly into a one-hour set. Vlatkovich’s writing has rarely been this concise, precise, and well delivered. Liveliness, warmth, humor, all delivered with simplicity. An unpretentious peak in this US jazzman’s career.

    François Couture, Monsieur Delire, 07-20-2013 Michael%20Vlatkovich

    Translated with help from Google



    M stands for Mike, C for Chris, and K for Kent in this explication of the hypothesis that 3 = the perfect company . Vlatkovich does not take long to mutter in his trombone and call to mind that he is one of the most outstanding improvisers, on which the sun shines on the U.S. West Coast......


    The operating temperature of his collabortion with bassist McLagen and Lee on drums draws its light from within creating songs that feel lluminated and warmed (heated would be too much to say) and most simply described as spontaneous, melodic and sonorous . Vlatkovich calls fhe tunes and blesses them off by giving them names in alphabetical order of 'commander jeka' and 'known unknown' . The significance of a title such as 'that man in those shoes under that hair' needs, I think no further comment . The closest comparison to that is, perhaps 'i let my magic tortoise go' with similar aesthetics for the trio. Or maybe 'once in a blue moon a decent wolf comes along'.


    Magic and Moon are certainly not the wrong metaphors to discribe this music, or even the thought underlying this music, in which the listener is invited to experience the structure in the flow. There is no breathing or applause breaks, but a continuous exchange of ideas never sweaty airiness. Lee's nuanced and constant crackling and stuttering, flow like sun and wind on a calm day rippleing the surface of the sea.


    McLagen's fingering accentuates the warm pizzicato with sustained spiciness. His touch is so eloquent, that switching to bow strokes in 'the snakes always talk about ill fitting doll clothes on the chickens', in it's simplicity, carries twice the effect. But these are not mere chance effects that make this impression.


    It is Vlatkovich with the overall design, expertly deminishing or building this easygoing feel, which manages the paradoxical feat of expressing a progressive form of cool, heat.

    [BA rbd 78] Rigobert Dittmann

    Translated from German with help from Google Translate.


    This is a jazz without swirling tornadoes. This is a clear and limpid jazz. This is a jazz of breadth and presence. This is Mike Vlatkovich the discrete trombonist and wise composer. This is Kent Mclagen of the benevolent bass inspecting each pause to discover territory for rejuvenation and relaxation. This is Chris Lee of drums and cymbals shimmering with disarming lightness.


    This is most especially a trio visiting a continuous natural flow of playful riffs, rather than going from theme to theme. It is a jazz of equal parts love and mass and space. This is a jazz of balance, strength and persuasion. This jazz will not annoy. This is a jazz of weaving braids in a woman's hair never ceasing to delight. We have been without this music for too long.



    succulence of abstraction is performed by a trio in continuous live performance.  The music lurches all over in style and mood but Michael Vlatkovich and his partners keep a continuous groove going with regular rhythms prominent and Vlatkovich playing his trombone every way it can be played.


    The swinging up-tempo melody of “Tortoise” downshifts into a loping blues beat on “Imponderable”.  “Length Of The Tail” is all muted trombone moaning and quickstep bass and drums, while “Snakes” is a long interval of foxy trio interplay centered on a slightly Latin beat that turns into a quiet shuffle from trombone and bowed bass.  The communication and sly wit that passes between all three members of this trio is remarkable. They always seem to know where to fall in with their partners and create a common mood. This is a very fun trio exercise.

    Jerome Wilson, CADENCE


    A Walk In The Park.  Last time I reviewed Michael Vlatkovich my ears were tuned to his ‘Pershing Woman’ – a live recording of his ‘Tryyo’. It seemed to find the group careening up staircase and down in search of a ticking bomb in the building: apt behaviour for an area known as ‘Grand Rapids’. For all its drive and virtuosity though, I did feel the performance suffered from a smidge too much emotional detachment, further expressed in its lengthy track titles, which oddly enough evoked word-playful west coast jazzmen such as Graham Connah. Well, Vlatkovich still favours titular verbosity, but here he exudes more of that west coast whimsy – not least in his decision to work through his set list in alphabetical order – even with his group stationed in Albuquerque for the occasion.


    The south-western city certainly seems more spacious than Michigan: no longer do the musicians sound as if they’re playing cheek by jowl, and the resulting sound is open and leisurely. For the most part, Vlatkovich parps along jovially at Saturday morning pace, with occasionally plangent, reflective turns of mind, as on the anomalously short-of-title ‘Know I’. He is accompanied on his stroll by the warm, resonant walking/jogging bass of Kent McLagen and the sparing, almost ornamental cymbal taps and snare rolls of drummer Chris Lee. These fairweather companions exude a positive, ‘day off’ nonchalance in remarking on the generous dimensions of their surroundings, even as they compliment their leader’s oft-elongated notes with impressive rhythmic and tonal precision. And in spite of the novelty ordering of the compositions – something of a posterity effort for Vlatkovich, who doesn’t go in for multiple recorded versions it seems – there is a very natural arc to the performance.


    In his notes, Vlatkovich remarks on the trio as his favoured format, offering equal measures of challenge, flexibility and concision: ‘the music dictates a certain path; it is the trio that brings the path into focus’ he explains. And though ‘Succulence of Abstraction’ only constitutes the present trio’s second recording together, the discipline and restraint they demonstrate suggests a more familiar, intuitive and longer-term grouping than one so ‘recent’ in its establishment. A bonus of sorts is the fidelity of the recording (an improvement on my last experience), sounding more like a studio effort than one captured on stage. It was evidently a fruitful endeavour for Vlatkovich, so let us hope he sees fit to keep McLagen and Lee in steady employment for the foreseeable future.

    Written by Stuart Marshall  THE SOUND PROJECTOR


    Here we have a live from Albuquerque date with a strong trio headed by trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, aptly titled Succulence of Abstraction (Thankyou MV 015). This is freely unfolding music in a pronounced jazz mode, swinging open form, with Vlatkovich joined by Kent Mclagen on acoustic bass and Chris Lee on drums.

    It's one of those sets that gives you smart playing but hard swinging, too. It's filled with some great Vlatkovich trombone, not surprising given that he is one of a small handful of important forward-moving bone-ologists out there today. The rhythm team of Mclagen and Lee are fine indeed, both propulsors of excellence and players of substance in their own right. And the three-way effort is solidly knit together in the best traditions of the "pianoless trio".

    There are head structures and lots of solo time in a post-new-thing zone. You could picture Archie Shepp added to this group easily. He isn't but that is OK because the three alone give you all the music you need.

    A really good one, this.

    Posted by Grego Applegate Edwards


    Michael Vlatkovich hails from St. Louis, Missouri, but has been part of the jazz and improvisation scene in and around Los Angeles since 1973. He is an arranger, composer and trombonist and has put a particularly significant catalog together. He has played with just about every musician of significance in the genre. His preference in the last few years has been trios, of which this is one of the incarnations. It is already the second album he makes with bassist Kent McLagen and drummer Chris Lee.


    This trio already know each other well and fit perfectly together. The fifteen songs were recorded live in Albuquerque, New Mexico on August 28, 2011. Vlatkovich appears to prefer live recording, although the set is composed the group seems to depart from written composition reponding playfully to the live recording situation.


    The combo plays jazz with playful humor, which is already apparent in the song titles ("I Let My Magic Tortoise Go ',' The Snakes Always Talk About Ill Fitting Clothes On The Chickens') and also in the structure of the set. The songs were in fact played in alphabetical order (without taking account of the word 'the'), which is an added weird effect. The recording reprresents two sets in their entirety, without interruption so the inventiveness and improvisation talent of the excellent trio is retained and finds full expression. Jazz rarely sounds better than this. Vlatkovich has been around a very long time and he is still far from blown out.

    by Patrick Bruneel (August 2013)

  • ART


    1     2:23     Commander Jeka

    2     3:57     The Embrace

    3     5:29     Faith Heads And Other Amusements

    4     2:05     I Let My Magic Tortoise Go

    5     3:00     The Imponderable Hiding In Extra Large Clothing

    6     7:08     It Is Not I Who Seek The Young Fool

    7     3:46     K Now I

    8     5:15     The Length Of The Tail Doesn't Really Matter But It Does

                       Have To  Be Bushy

    9     3:33     Merle And Neal

    10   1:58     Once In A Blue Moon A Decent Wolf Comes Along

    11   7:54     The Snakes Always Talk About Ill Fitting Doll Clothes On The


    12   3:68     The Talentless Judging The Overreaching

    13   2:23     That Man In Those Shoes Under That Hair

    14   4:23     Unknown Known

    15   2:06     Always Connection

         59:13     TOTAL




    MV015 DISC





    I’ve been releasing trio recordings for some time now. It is a configuration I find challenging and extremely rewarding. The elements I so much enjoy in music are prominently available in this format: the sound, the function/role of each of the members, the fluidity/flexibility of role changing, and maybe most importantly, the need to be clear and concise, because of the limited voices. I view all of these trio projects quite differently, not only because of the musicians and instrumentation, but also because of the focus; the musical dynamic between each of the three musicians. The music dictates a certain path; it is the trio that brings the path into focus. It’s all about making music. Music that inspires. Music that’s emotionally charged. Music that gives the listener a sound track for their own, very unique lives. The trio can do  all these things in a very pure, unadulterated form.


    This Cd marks the second for this ensemble. Like the first, it is also a concert recording. It was recorded as part of the Roost series at a venue called Projects in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The performance is made up of two sets, both of which were continuous. In essence, these sets were medleys. My trio book is large.  Once music has been documented, I generally replace it with something new. My goal is to record desirable renditions of as many of my compositions as possible. So for this concert, we thought we would play a few more titles than usual. Of the titles chosen, we performed them in alphabetical order. The reason Always Connection appears last, is because we actually started and ended the concert with it, but I chose to use the end version. We go many, many places in a reasonably short amount of time. That was our intention with the medleys. The music is very challenging, both Kent and Chris make it sound effortless. It’s really a pleasure to perform with them and I am very pleased that this event was documented. Enjoy.......



    If you are interested in more music by this ensemble you can order MV013 titled “three3”



Copyright © 2018 Michael Vlatkovich

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