|“Universal Syncopations II” by Czech bassist/composer Miroslav Vitous explores a wider range of options than its best-selling predecessor (released 2003), as choirs loom out of the mix and orchestral colours swirl around a shifting cast of modern jazz players which includes Randy Brecker on trumpet and Bob Mintzer, Bob Malach and Gary Campbell on saxophones. Miroslav’s uniquely expressive double-bass drives the music forward and has a central role to play in the ensemble interaction.
Voices move in and out of ‘Opera’, the opening track, which announces a very different and startlingly original album. More ambitious than its predecessor, melodic motifs are developed and expanded by Vitous’ confident and challenging writing and his use of jazz ensemble and strings, which after its attention getting opening settles into a groove under Mintzer’s saxophone solo against an otherwordly orchestral backing and the leader’s virtuoso bass playing. … ‘Breakthrough’ featuring Campbell’s soprano saxophone is an ambitious marriage of jazz and symphonic sounds… ‘Universal Evolution’ is perhaps the ultimate realisation of this … vision which Vitous believes is the way forward for jazz today. With an album as remarkable as this in its melodic, tonal, rhythmic and conceptional diversity, he may just have a point. -Stuart Nicholson, Jazzwise