Friday, 16 December 2016

"The Bass [aka 'Infinite Space' and 'Mountain In The Clouds'] by MIROSLAV VITOUS (2016 Beat Goes On Reissue - High Definition Andrew Thompson CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Mountain In The Clouds..."

Czech Bass Player MIROSLAV VITOUS is known to most music lovers for co-founding Weather Report with Pianist Joe Zawinul and Saxophonist Wayne Shorter - yet much of his solo career remains shrouded in sideshow mystery. His second album - beautifully transferred here by England's Beat Goes On - is typical – having received two release dates, three differing names and four kinds of artwork across the years.

Recorded in November 1969 in at A&R Studios in New York - it was first issued February 1970 in the USA as "Infinite Space" on Embryo SD 524. It came in a fetching black and white gatefold sleeve with Miroslav’s photo centred and was distributed by the mighty Atlantic Records. Receiving very favourable 4-star reviews in the US trade mags - that initial LP had six tracks (3 on each side) and lined up as follows - "Freedom Jazz Dance", "Mountain In The Clouds" and "When Face Gets Place" on Side 1 with "Infinite Search", "I Will Tell Him On You" and "Epilogue" on Side 2.

However that version was deemed unsatisfactory and in 1972 it was remixed and reissued by Atlantic in November 1972 in Germany on Hor Zu/Atlantic ATL 30 024 now called "The Bass" with an extra unreleased-song - "Cerecka" - and a rejiggered track list. To confuse matters further - the American remixed and expanded version issued November 1972 on Atlantic SD 1622 was given yet another name - "Mountain In The Clouds". A further European issue actually sported yet more different artwork (a fourth variant). This December 2016 single-CD reissue uses the German name, artwork and 1972 WEA Remix. Here are the finite details...

UK released 2 December 2016 - "The Bass" by MIROSLAV VITOUS on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1260 (Barcode 5017261212603) is a straightforward CD transfer of the 1972 Remixed Atlantic Records LP and plays out as follows (47:25 minutes):

1. Freedom Jazz Dance
2. Mountain In The Clouds
3. Epilogue
4. Cerecka
5. Infinite Search [Side 2]
6. I Will Tell Him On You
7. When Face Gets Pale
Tracks 1 to 7 are the 2nd issue of the LP "Infinite Space" now renamed as "The Bass" - released November 1972 in Germany on Hor Zu/Atlantic ATL 30 024 and as "Mountain In The Clouds" in the USA on Atlantic SD 1622. Produced by HERBIE MANN – all tracks are by Miroslav Vitous except "Freedom Jazz Dance" which is an Eddie Harris cover version

JOE CHAMBERS – Drums on "Epilogue" only
JACK DeJOHNETTE – Drums on all other tracks

The 12-page booklet pictures the core four of Vitous, McLaughlin, Hancock and DeJohnette and little else (none of the differing artwork – there was even another cover variant in the late Seventies in France) –but that’s more than compensated by the new CHARLES WARING liner notes – a Jazz Columnist for Record Collector and Mojo. On top of that is the stunning ANDREW THOMPSON High Definition Remaster that I’m fairly sure is based on the Rhino Remaster of just a few years back. In short – this CD sounds amazing.

The moment the relentless and wild soloing of "Freedom Jazz Dance" (an Eddie Harris cover) hits your speakers – your room is filled with the kind of playing virtuosity that seems ridiculous even today – and in gorgeous sound quality too. At just short of eleven-minutes the opener is a tour-de-force for Fusion Jazz and is followed by two-minutes of "Mountain In The Clouds" where Miroslav finally takes centre-stage and lets rip on those fret runs. At just over seven minutes "Epilogue" is the smoky nightclub moment – softly plucked fret notes hovering over a vibes and piano backdrop – it’s beautifully realised in the transfer. "Cerecka" was added to the 1972 track list at the end of Side 1 - speeding cymbals doing battle with free-form Jazz from Shorter for just under three minutes.

Side 2 opens with the album's other mellow-yellow tune - the original title track "Infinite Space" - just under seven minutes of vibes underpinned by Miroslav leaning into notes. It's beautifully transferred and has such subtle guitar from McLaughlin. At eleven-minutes plus "I Will Tell Him On You" remains the album's other major piece - a rapid freak out of soloing with DeJohnette working those sticks like a man on speed-dial.

The album in its various forms has always been a celebrated collector's item on vinyl. Beat Goes On is to be congratulated for making the CD variant available again and in such beautiful audio style...

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