Perfect slide

I like jazz, but I like music better. That is, I prefer good music to any particular idea of music. And I think Michael Vlatkovich is of the same mind.

Michael Vlatkovich Septet
ask 7

He's a trombonist, which is the greatest jazz instrument in my book. Sure, that's a weird personal bias, though trombone is not among the many instruments I have attempted to play. I just really like the sound of trombone in jazz. Delfeayo Marsalis's first album, Pontius Pilate's Decision, is one of my favorites. But I like Vlatkovich's work better. He isn't afraid to range.

And he's not afraid to let his compadres shine. All the greats give space to their sides, and Vlatkovich gives ample space to the other horns in his outfit. The bass and percussion can be a bit more rote, I guess, but the horns do shine.

This is a more contemplative set than the last album I reviewed. But this is also a completely different set. The horns have a direct dialogue with the listener, which is the great treat of a bigger jazz band. When things work, it seems like one is hanging with the crew.

Vlatkovich isn't afraid of missteps. That's why his albums are always intriguing. They might not quite hit the mark--not a problem here--but they are always worth a listen or ten. There are those who would like jazz to be some hidebound enterprise. Vlatkovich is making sure it it isn't.

Jon Worley

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