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Time Against Us

F10173   [8595017417320]   released 4/2009
purchase CD album

play all Time Against Us - Matej Benko Quintet 70:36
Enrico's Storytelling 6:40
Time Against Us 6:02
Birina (For Luša) 8:22
Little Explorer (For Alfréd) 8:08
Spacecraft 6:33
Early Heart 7:28
Periodic Excuse 7:58
If You Never Come To Me 7:24
Late To Say Sorry 7:39
Over The Rainbow 4:14

Miroslav Hloucal: trumpet, flugelhorn
Radek Zapadlo: tenor saxophone
Matej Benko: piano
Tomáš Liška: double-bass, bassguitar
Pavel Zbořil: drums
Miriam Bayle: vocal guest (3, 8)


The compositions on this CD were written in various circumstances from 2006 to 2008. I composed some of the themes before I founded the quintet, and I now play them with the trio as well. Among the oldest is ‘Early Heat’ and ‘Enrico's Storytelling’. I left the original form alone, and just arranged them for a quintet. Both were written in the same period and stand in contrast to each other in terms of the structure of the melodic phrases. ‘Enrico's Storytelling’ presents regular motifs, whereas ‘Early Heat’ gives more space to the melodies. The composition ‘Spacecraft’ is, compared to the trio version, completely redone; the whole thing flows in 5/4 time. ‘Periodic Excuses’ and ‘Too Late To Say Sorry’ were also written for the trio but the original intention was to use only the first part of both. The new themes and also the expanded form were written for wind instruments. Of my earlier arrangements I have also included the intimate ‘Over the Rainbow’, which presents the altered theme of that gorgeous ballad. I love its direct transparency and simplicity, which stand out even more in the absence of improvised solos. Another standard, ‘If You Never Come to Me’, I arranged for the Miriam Bayle Band, but it took has taken hold in the quintet too. Since Miriam is guest artist on the CD, I have taken the opportunity to use her beautiful voice also in the composition ‘Birina’. I dedicate it to my daughter, who gave that name to a large white gorilla that she regularly dreams about. Another composition is dedicated to my one-year-old son – ‘Little Explorer’ is written on his T-shirt and it perfectly expresses what he does all day long. I wrote this one with a smile on my lips and played the basic motif over and over again. Later I found out from my wife that it really got on her nerves. She eventually, thank goodness, came to like the final result. The title song, ‘Time against Us’, is, I hope, despite its name, bright and cheerful. I hope your enjoy what you hear!

Matej Benko

Fewer and fewer things in today’s oversaturated world have anything to say to me or are able to give me a pleasant surprise or inspire me. This disc, however, is an exception. The music is jazz of the present. It comes from its roots. It doesn’t neglect ‘serious’ music. It respects the player’s craft. And it’s on the imaginary straight line that jazz is taking today. For me personally it meets the criteria that I often pine for in vain on jazz discs. I like Matej Benko, his playing, and his music. That’s why I hope this disc gets into the hands of as many listeners as possible!   _ Robert Balzar

Dizzy Gillespie apparently used to say that in jazz it’s important ‘to keep one foot in the past and one foot in the future.’ Matej Benko stands firmly in both areas. For that, he has put on his seven-league boots, and set out on an excursion through our galaxy. He’s got lots more stories in his bag, all of which won’t fit on this disc. But that doesn’t matter. Let’s listen at least to these, while looking forward to the next ones.   _ František Kop

The Czech jazz scene is alive and well. Under this bubbling cauldron the pianist-composer Matej Benko has just added his own little log to the fire. I had the pleasure of being present when he was a student just starting out in Prague, and I have been able to observe his musical growth right up to the time he became a teacher and mature player. In addition to musical talent he also has a talent for leading an ensemble. His new compositions are carefully wrought; their structure is sometimes unusual (tracks 3 and 4), yet effective. The vocal component provided by Miriam Bayle greatly enlivens the album, giving it another dimension. The originality of the individual compositions is indisputable, just like the demands on the listener’s ability to perceive. The reward is an experience of well-written music performed at a high level. The rhythm section works flawlessly, and the performance of Bady Zbořil truly goes beyond the usual. Together with Tomáš Liška he provides more than the usual prerequisites for the solo performances. And the solos are a highly inspired part of the whole. You can tell that Míra Hloucal has chosen difficult harmonic curves with certainty, even in the diverse metres and rhythms situations that Matej has prepared for him and his colleagues. Radek Zapadlo also fits in well with his tenor creations, and the collaboration of both players is exemplary in the heads too. The lyrical epilogue to the album suggests other dimensions to Benko’s creative and performing potential. I hear in it hints of ‘Over the Rainbow’, which go beyond the rainbow and perhaps even a bit further.   _ Karel Růžička

further recordings featuring Matej Benko:

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