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Emil Viklicky Releases New CD in Japan

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Emil Viklicky
Emil Viklicky and Venus Records are pleased to announce the release of Emil's latest CD, Sinfonietta~The Janacek of Jazz (VHCD 1034). Eleven of its dozen tracks were recorded at Avatar Studios in New York last year with George Mraz on bass and Lewis Nash on drums. The twelfth track, “Sinfonietta," recorded in Prague in 2007 with Mraz and Laco Tropp on drums, originally appeared on the CD Moravian Gems (CubeMetier 2007).

As a composer, Emil Viklickýhas attracted international attention for having created a synthesis of modern jazz with the melodicism and tonalities of Moravian folk song that is distinctly individual in contemporary music. This is Emil's unique niche--his “brand," as marketing people put it--and it has garnered him the nickname from which this recording takes its title. To understand this moniker, a little background is helpful.

Leos Janácek (1854-1928), is considered to rank with Antonin Dvorak and Bedrich Smetana as one of the most important Czech composers. Janácek was inspired by Moravian and Slavic folk music, which he incorporated in a modern, highly original synthesis. His work attained its mature form first in the 1904 opera Jenufa (often called the “Moravian national opera"), and later with the symphonic poem Sinfonietta, and other chamber works and operas.

A century later, Emil, like Janácek, has taken the music of his native Moravia and melded it into a larger mainstream, in this case American-style jazz. In fact, Emil has written jazz arrangements of several Janácek compositions, three of which are heard in this collection: the two previously mentioned and a third, “In the Mists." The other tracks are a combination of traditional Moravian folksong (re-worked into a jazz context) and Emil's own compositions.

There is, as Emil explains, another, literary element to the inclusion of “Sinfonietta" on this CD by Venus, an independent Japanese label founded by Tetsuo Hara in 1992. A recently released novel by Haruki Murakami, 1Q84/2, which takes Janácek and his Sinfonietta as its subject, is currently a runaway best-seller in Japan.

Emil speaks enthusiastically about having been able to record with the world-class rhythm section of Mraz and Lewis, who regularly play with Hank Jones. He was also delighted with the sound of the piano used in this recording, reputedly chosen for Avatar by Cedar Walton.

Tracks: The Forlorn Peach Tree; When I Walked; A Bird Flew Over; Gone With Water; In The Mists; Touha (Desire); My Lover Is Leaving Me; Fanoshu; Sweet Basil; She Was Walking Meadow; Jenufa (Act 2, scene 8); Sinfonietta.

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