Emil Viklicky and Richie Cole

Club BluJazz, Chicago, IL
Wednesday June 2, 2010

Emil Viklicky
Emil Viklicky

Story by Brad Walseth, Photos by John Broughton, Copyright 2010

Czech piano superstar Emil Viklicky made an appearance at Club BluJazz last week - performing two sets for the pleased audience at the northside's newest jazz club. Viklicky was joined by alto saxophone "madman" Richie Cole and baritone saxophonist Ted Hogarth (of Mulligan Mosaics fame) - who formed a stellar front line, along with rising young players - bassist Aaron Mitter and drummer Trevor Shandling.

Across a range of standards and Cole originals, Viklicky demonstrated the skills that have made him renowned worldwide. Throwing his entire body into it, he aggressively attacked the keys with his large and powerful hands, while also showing a light and delicate touch when appropriate. The combination of Cole and Hogarth produced a delightful contrast and shading, while Mitter displayed his impressive growth as a player since his arrival from Florida a few years ago. Young Shandling was unfamiliar to me, but he appears to have a bright future ahead of him, as he held his own with these strong players.

Two Gerry Mulligan tunes (arranged by Hogarth) were presented - a samba "North Atlantic Run" and the ballad "For a Strayhorn," while Cole pulled out "Walkin' wiht Mr. Boots" - from his "Yakity Madness" album - recorded with Boots Randolph. The first set ended with a number dedicated to Art Blakey - which gave Shandling his solo spotlight.

Tireless Czech proponent Bruce Bendinger, as well as the Czech embassy and Club BluJazz deserve kudos for showcasing this European virtuoso with some of our local favorites. There is a rumor that Viklicky may be returning at a later date - I would suggest that fans of well-played straight ahead piano and horn jazz be sure to watch the listings and attend when he does return.

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