Harry Sokal: ten - soprano saxophone
Vladislav Sendecki: keyboards
Matthew Garrison: bass
Stephan Maas: percussion
Jojo Mayer: drums
Whenever Joe Lovano or other musicians of his caliber come to Vienna, their first question usually is: "What's Harry doing?" If someone enjoys such a reputation among his colleagues, it should be relatively easy for him to pull the best of them together to form a first-rate band with international scope. In this case, a team of adept specialists answered Harry's call: the Swiss wonder-drummer Jo Jo Mayer, who's so powerful that, when he left the Screaming Headless Torsos, two drummers were brought in to replace him; the Polish keyboard-tiger Vladislav Sendecki; the American bass player, Matthew Justin Garrison, son of the legendary bassist Jimmy Garrison; and the Vienna-based percussionist Stephan Maass. Full Circle is the name they gave to this musical encounter and the choice of title seems apt:
The program appears to bring Sokal's musical activity from over a period of 25 years to full close in a mature way. Everyone knows that he got into extremely rhythmic music a long time ago already. What's incredible is that, out of Vienna, he has managed to make so much headway in such a typically American domain. Sokal expertly combines his tested skills as a jazz musician (from playing with Timeless, Art Farmer, Vienna Art Orchestra, Gulda, etc.) with all the vital rhythms that already exist or haven't even been discovered yet. Here, on this CD, this has resulted in such things as an exciting new version of Birdland, which benefitted from the input of composer Zawinul, who placed a light fatherly arm around this production of his brainchild, and other powerful down-to-earth trade such as Shine Magic Transition and Time Square. Next to these, Sendecki's sensual ballad Back Where I Belong and Sokal's jazzy composition. A swinging bird for children's fake provide thoughtful and welcome contrast.
The real merit of this band, is the way it handles today's grooves, integrating them expertly in the jazz context to produce a sound that never seems contrived and that is lively and deeply felt.