Miroslav Vitous: Journey’s End (ECM 1242)

Miroslav Vitous
Journey’s End

Miroslav Vitous bass
John Surman soprano and baritone saxophones, bass clarinet
John Taylor piano
Jon Christensen drums
Recorded July 1982 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Although bassist Miroslav Vitous never quite achieved the brilliance of his work with Weather Report, he did produce some intimations of it in the studio as he embarked on a solo career. Much of that old spark still flares on Journey’s End. “U Dunaje U Prešpurka,” in which he spins from a Czech folk song motif a cosmic sound with drummer Jon Christensen and reedman John Surman on bass clarinet, proves most fortuitous, as Surman builds enigmatic, freestanding structures atop constantly shifting tectonic plates. The quartet’s palette is broadened with the addition of John Taylor on keys, and under whose guidance the album’s titular journey really begins to take off. Christensen’s urgency carries across a deep flavor, only accentuated by its surroundings, and left to trace the piano’s tracks. “Only One” features its composer on electric bass, pairing nicely with Surman’s unmistakable baritone. Surman himself offers two tunes, flying high with his soprano in “Tess” before reprising the baritone in the sprightly “Paragraph Jay,” which also showcases Vitous’s dexterous versatility. We also get a vibrant group improvisation in “Carry On, No. 1” before Taylor closes us out with his soprano-led “Windfall.” This forward-thinking piece brings us full circle and finds in every turn of phrase the key to unlocking unknown futures. 

With sweeping brushwork the music on Journey’s End manages to be at once painterly and spontaneous, describing vast landscapes with but a flick of the sonic hairs. A lovely addition to any Vitous or Surman fan’s shelf.

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