Pianist Larry Vuckovich has recorded in a variety of settings in his career, ranging from swing to music that reflects his roots in Eastern Europe. Street Scene is one of his finest showcases for it puts the focus on Vuckovich's skills on the piano in a trio that on four selections is augmented by one or two Latin percussionists. The Latin pieces, which include "As Time Goes by Mambo" and "Blue Bohemia Suite," are particularly infectious. The trio numbers, which include standards, a few obscurities (including Sonny Clark's "News for Lulu") and some originals by the pianist, are swinging, boppish, and inventive, attached to the tradition but not predictable. With stimulating support from bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Akira Tana, this is an easily enjoyable and recommended release from one of San Francisco's finest jazz pianists.
Pianist Larry Vuckovich revisits his landmark 1980 recording on this combined reissue and new release. Prefiguring the much-lauded work of Dave Douglas and the Tiny Bell Trio, guitarist Brad Shepik, and even John Zorn, the Yugoslavian-born Vuckovich combines the ethnic melodies and rhythms from his native Balkans with modal jazz. Never as avant-garde as his contemporaries, Vuckovich nonetheless pushes the boundaries of both jazz and folk styles. The original tracks featured the brilliant vibe playing of Bobby Hutcherson, who unfortunately does not reprise his role on the four new pieces.
A veteran pianist deserving of wider recognition, Larry Vuckovich has spent several decades on the American jazz scene since leaving his native Yugoslavia for the U.S. in the early '50s. For the most part the songs on these 2011 sessions focus on bop and hard bop from the late '50s and early '60s, ranging from solo piano to trio, quartet, and quintet, featuring tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton on five selections. Vuckovich's working group includes tenor saxophonist Noel Jewkes, bassist Paul Keller, and drummer Chuck McPherson. Vuckovich's solo treatment of Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica" mixes glistening lines with jaunty bop, while his approach to Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" is lush with a few Tatum-inspired runs added for fun.