Prague After Dark by the MUH Trio is a recording of immense breadth and nobility and because those two qualities permeate every song on the disc, I do not hesitate to call it one of the finest piano trio records I have heard in a very long time – certainly in the year 2017 so far. Each of the illustrious members of this trio – pianist Roberto Magris, bassist Frantisek and drummer Jaromir Helesic – are musicians of immense humanity and sophistication. Having met after an extended period apart, the musicians seem to have picked up easily from where they had left off, to convey, with the greatest passion, the boundless treasures of this sublime music.
One of the most striking aspects of Roberto Magris’ musicianship over the years has been his inerrant sense of timing. There is no rush to arrival: every scintillating detail is savoured at leisure without a trace of decadent indulgence. Lyrical passages in his glorious music speak with earnest ardour, lending them a disarming, youthful freshness. Magris has always had an extraordinary turn of phrase with melody. Tempos are amply pliant and rubato, when applied, is richly luxuriant. The rhythmic spine of the material remains intact, so the rhetorical thrust is never lost to detail. Even while playing “Nenazvana” and “From Heart to Heart” Magris observes Uhlir’s agogic markings with character and dignity.
Among the unique highlights of Prague After Dark is the inclusion, by The MUH Trio, a piece by Herbie Nichols (“Third World”) and one by Don Pullen (“Joycie Girl”). The very fact that these two pieces are put on record suggests that The MUH Trio will accept any challenge towards freethinking adventurousness. I suspect the instigation comes from Magris who, in doing so, shows himself to be a pianist with a very keen sense of Jazz history. You also get a sense that Magris, Uhlir and Helesic are cultivated players with exceptional technical address, and in the case of Uhlir and Helesic: their rhythm is immaculate whatever the tempo. Music by Nichols and Pullen has never come with a primer and both selections are played with exquisite imagination by Magris, Uhlir and Helesic.
Overall the musicians play this music with the greatest of skill and due diligence to the originality of the writing in each case. Magris’ feather-like pianissimo glissandos in the playfully capricious “Joycie Girl” are brilliantly executed, while the tremolos “Song for an African Child” disperse into the air like pungent incense. Shapeliness of phrase and line characterise Frantisek Uhlir’s performances on both his compositions – and elsewhere, of course. And Jaromir Helesic plays with impeccable taste throughout. This well-recorded set, thoughtfully and reverently conceived, captures the magic of Roberto Magris’ richly evocative pieces as The MUH Trio acquits itself with rare distinction.
Track List – Another More Blues; Nenazvana; Third World; Prague After Dark; Joycie Girl; From Heart to Heart; Song for an African Child; A Summer’s Kiss; Iraqi Blues; In Love in Vain
Personnel – Roberto Magris: piano; Frantisek Uhlir: bass; Jaromir Helesic: drums.
Released – 2017
Label – J-Mood
Running time – 1:05:37