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Miroslav Vitous Group
Miroslav Vitous Group

ECM Records

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Between 1979 and 1982, the Miroslav Vitouš Group was the primary outlet for the abundant improvisational skills of leader Vitouš and John Surman. They made three ECM albums: this eponymously-titled disc from 1980 is the middle one. Vitouš and Surman were well-matched in lots of ways, with roots and influences that extended beyond jazz, a love of playing freely, a commitment to using all the sound potential of their respective instruments: Surman singing at the top of the baritone sax’s range to match Miroslav’s fiddle-like arco flourishes on the double bass. The redoubtable Jon Christensen shared their passion for playing, as did Kenny Kirkland, just 24 at the time of this session, on his way to becoming one of modern jazz’s outstanding pianists. Repertoire includes classic Miroslav pieces (“When Face Gets Pale”), collective improvising, and an early sighting of Surman’s relentlessly driving “Number Six”.


Miroslav Vitous  Double Bass

John Surman  Soprano Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinet

Kenny Kirkland  Piano

Jon Christensen  Drums

 – Press Release

“In exploring a multiplicity of reference points, from the neo-classical leanings of the closing ‘Eagle,’ where Vitous' warm arco blends with Surman's gently searching bass clarinet, to the dark-hued cinematics of "Sleeping Beauty" and swinging but temporally shifting ‘Gears,’ where Vitous delivers one of his most impressive pizzicato solos of the set, Miroslav Vitous Group is unequivocally a jazz record, but one whose multiplicity of stylistic touchstones also makes it a long overdue release that is, indeed, informed by all kinds of music. And it's good, too—exceptionally good, in fact.

Like its predecessor, Five Years Later is split between individual compositions and collective improvisation, though this time a full 23 minutes of the album's 50-minute run time is devoted to spontaneous creation. The composed music is wonderful, with Towner's knotty but intrinsically lyrical ‘The Juggler's Etude’ one of his most memorable compositions to this day and ‘Caminata’ a miniature of singular melancholic beauty. The contrasting light and dark of Abercrombie's ‘Child's Play’ and more dramatic ebb and flow of ‘Isla’ are further evidence of the guitarist's compositional evolution, in just a few short years. But it's the free improvisations that reveal just how much Towner and Abercrombie's shared language and innate chemistry had evolved—the result of growth in their own separate projects and with more time spent on the road together. [...]some of the finest, most intuitive and intimately inspired dual-guitar music in the history of jazz.” - John Kelman, All About Jazz

Item description:


Miroslav Vitous Group


Miroslav Vitous Group


ECM Records


Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, 180g



Release Date:

This reissue: 2014 | Original – 1981




Contemporary Jazz

Catalog No:

ECM 1185