The Czech Frantisek UhliÅ™ is one of the greatest bassists in the world. He works frequently in the trio of his countryman pianist Emil Viklicky, another great European player about whom most Americans know little. I just ran across a brief note I made when I was in Prague twelve years ago, helping American economists teach market economics to Czech journalists newly released from communism.
June 10, 1993: Went to Agartha last night to hear Frantisek Uhlir, the wonderful bassist. Earlier in the day one of his fans told me he is better than George Mraz. Maybe, maybe not, but he is superb, world class. Uhlir is a short, powerful, chubby man with a pleasant round face. His tone is round, too, and centered, and he is fast, agile and swinging.
Vicklickyâ€™s trio with Uhlir and the Slovakian drummer Laco Tropp backs the multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson on Robinsonâ€™s lovely Summertime CD released last year on the Czech label Cube Metier. In my Jazz Times review of the album and one by Robinson of Louis Armstrong compositions, I wrote:
One of the best contemporary pianists, Viklicky’s soloing and comping, his touch, voicings and intervals have a good deal in common with fleet, tasteful pianists like Tommy Flanagan, Jimmy Rowles and Bill Charlap. His individuality is deeply informed by the music of his native land, and particularly by that of Moravia.
To read the review of both albums, go here.