Libor Šmoldas NYC Trio: On the Move (2016)

Libor Šmoldas NYC Trio: On the Move (2016)

Libor Šmoldas NYC Trio
with Jay Anderson & Adam Nussbaum
On the Move
New Port Line 2017

  1. Liquid Breakfast
  2. One for Kenny Burrell
  3. Broken D Key
  4. Tram Line 57
  5. Not a Jazz Tune
  6. Love
  7. Autumn in Three
  8. Letter Home
  9. Who's Got Rhythm?
  10. Blues in the Shower
  11. Lydian Blues

Total time: 52:52
 
Libor Šmoldas – guitar
Jay Anderson – acoustic bass
Adam Nussbaum – drums
 
Produced by Libor Šmoldas and Petr Marek
Photos © 2016 Neil Swanson
Cover design © Yvonne Baalbaki, 2016
© & (p) AGUILAR (NEW PORT LINE), 2016

It should be noted up front that I have been friends with Libor Šmoldas for many years. We also share a love of the same musical instrument; we are colleagues. I need not pretend when complimenting Libor as his devotion to jazz and his instrument skills are absolutely indisputable. Libor is already well established on the music scene despite his relatively young age. Moreover, he has a natural feel for being a leader which by itself is half a ticket to success.

Libor's live work over the years has included dates on four continents in cities such as New York, Washington, Sydney, Beijing, Istanbul, Vienna, Berlin, Denver, Milan, Philadelphia, Brisbane and London. Libor was the first Czech jazz bandleader to take his quartet on tour in the USA. For the past five years, Libor has made an annual journey to teach and play in Australia. In the Czech Republic alone, Libor has played over two thousand concerts, including major festivals such as Prague Spring, Prague Proms, Jazz Fest Brno, Bohemia Jazz Fest, Strings of Autumn and Janáček’s May.

Libor plays and records with many world class musicians including George Mraz, Jeff Ballard, Sam Yahel, Bobby Watson, Adam Nussbaum, Brian Charette and Jay Anderson. Libor has also received numerous awards including the prize for best Czech jazz song in 2014 and the Czech Angel Award for best jazz album while with the Ondrej Pivec Organic Quartet. He teaches at the Conservatory of Jaroslav Jezek in Prague as well as at frequent international workshops in England, Germany, Greece, Italy and Australia.

Libor appears on stage in various configurations but the cornerstone for every jazz guitarist is a trio with bass and drums. A guitarist feels exposed in this setting; his responsibilities are not only to take care of the rhythm, the melody and harmony, but to also set the trio's overall sound while at the same time presenting himself as a true leader. Libor has assembled a truly world-class permanent(!) rhythm section. Who else in our jazz pond has a „working band“ with such prestigious teammates as bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Adam Nussbaum? This exceptional trio has worked together on an ongoing basis since recording the „Dreamtime“ album in 2011 and they perform regularly in both Europe and the USA.

Drummer Adam Nussbaum, a native of Connecticut, started his career in New York in Sonny Rollins' band. He soon became an indispensable part of the Dave Liebman Quintet. His first European tour was with guitar legend John Scofield. Adam has collaborated with numerous other famous musicians including Gil Evans, Stan Getz, Randy and Michael Brecker, Carla Bley and many others.

Bassist and songwriter Jay Anderson is among the most versatile players on today's scene. Among the musicians Jay has worked with over the years the following names stand out: Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Chaka Khan, Michel Legrand, Allen Ginsberg and Celine Dion. Notable names from the jazz world include Woody Herman, Carmen McRae, Maria Schneider, John Scofield, Lee Konitz, Mike Stern and Kenny Wheeler.

„On the Move“, the CD you are holding in your hands, is the second album by this trio. With the initial teething pains of a young group over, the expectations are therefore high. While the trio's debut album „Dreamtime“ consisted solely of covers, „On the Move“ exclusively contains original compositions by Libor Šmoldas. The songwriter chose his time-tested „hits“, dressed them in a fresh trio coat, hoping to give these songs a new and different energy. Judge for yourself how well Libor managed to achieve that.

The album title reflects how the disk was recorded and also the changing sound of the trio with their shift to a bluesier mood. „On the Move was recorded in just a single day after one of the promoters unexpectedly canceled a concert in the middle of the tour,“ Libor responded to my enquiry about the title. Libor's loyalty to tradition is ever-present throughout his musical identity and it comes out all of his pores. One can hear a flash of Wes Montgomery here, Peter Bernstein or Joe Pass there, but throughout one can mainly hear Libor's devotion to jazz and his honest approach to maintaining its traditions. Libor already boasts his own sound, one that binds together all the songs presented here as an album.

The initial composition on the album, „Liquid Breakfast“, was originally written for the SoulMates organ trio. It is played alternately in 5/4 and 4/4 time. „One for Kenny Burrell“ first appeared on the „Libor Šmoldas Quartet Live at Jazz Dock“ album and is dedicated to one of Libor's favorite guitarists. The bluesy „Broken D Key“ also comes from SoulMates' repertoire; organist Brian Charette was playing at the time with a broken key of D! „Tram Line 57“ was originally inspired by Libor's journeys home on one of Prague's overnight tram lines from late night jam sessions in the club U Maleho Glena. On this album, it takes the form of a bass/drums duet. „Not a Jazz Tune“, taken from the Libor Šmoldas Quartet album „18 Days 2000 Miles“, was stripped down and is now presented as a solo guitar piece. The ballad „Love“ is the sole new composition on this album; Libor dedicated it to his wife Vendulka. „Autumn in Three“ sounds great in Jay Anderson's solo bass arrangement. „Letter from Home“ was originally heard on a 2014 Libor Šmoldas Quartet 2014 album with Bobby Watson titled „Intuition“. This song won the festival Bohemia Jazz Fest and OSA’s Best Jazz composition of the Year in the Czech Republic. „Who's Got the Rhythm?“ was originally a vocal piece sung by Zeuritia and is now rearranged into an inspired instrumental for the trio. The already-energetic „Blues In The Shower“ becomes phenomenal with Adam Nussbam's solo drum arrangement. „Lydian Blues“ closes the album in a fragile arrangement of counterpoint guitar and bass voices.

Libor Šmoldas does not stay long in one place, either musically or personally. Besides a busy work calendar, he takes care of a (now) large family, and especially continues working on his musical growth. „On the Move“ is the audio document of Libor's current phase; I am looking forward to where his next journey will lead us!

Vilém Spilka

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