Scott Hlavenka’s bass lines help lay the foundation to the funky sounds we groove to when we listen to Fresh Cut Collective. And on guitar in the Milwaukee Hot Club, his skillful hands help bring Django Reinhardt and gypsy jazz to life. In addition, Scott’s work as a solo artist further exemplifies his musical talent. “Thursday Weather” was released in 2008 and has a great pop feel with distinct jazz undertones that is certainly worth listening to.
With music so easily accessible now, a person can pick and choose what songs they add to their repertoire and like an artist they know little about. This is dangerous because it allows some people to make an album consisting of one or two hits and multiple ‘fillers’ that are rarely worth a listen. I have to be able to enjoy an album in its entirety before I add it to my play list, and “Thursday Weather” fits this requirement. It kicks off with the song “Thank You Everyday”; my personal favorite and one you might have heard on 88.9. The first few acoustic licks are clean and rhythmic and set the tone for this upbeat song, and Scott keeps things interesting with tempo changes and a bit of soloing on the electric guitar as well.
“Nice to Meet You” strolls in next with an easy flow and positive vibe. Like all of the tracks, it tells its own story while still maintaining the cohesive sound of the album. This song plays to those familiar feelings of attraction and anticipation we experience in a budding relationship.
The album progresses to “In Between” which continues to deliver a laid back groove without being monotonous, and moves on to “Gracefully”; a sufficient word to describe Scott’s playing throughout the album. I always enjoy the honesty that good acoustic playing provides since its feeling is expressed without alterations. The addition of some electric guitar and keys helps to maintain a full sound through slower songs like “Forgiveness” and “Undiscovered Fantasy.”
The tempo picks up again in “Perfect Place”, and again, sufficient execution of time changes keeps things interesting. “For You My Love” continues the ride on a great beat and Scott’s jazz influence seems especially evident in both tracks. A harder-hitting guitar solo that sits on top of a great bass line are an unexpected, yet pleasant surprise in the latter half of the song “Dennis”. This comes at the perfect time as the album nears the end. “Amani” is an instrumental piece with a more traditional, finger picking style that is a short and sweet conclusion to the album; or so I thought until I recently discovered an untitled track at the very end. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of experiencing Scott’s gypsy jazz, this last song will give you just a little taste.
When I find bands that I really enjoy it’s always a treat to hear other things that they’ve done. With someone like Scott who’s involved in multiple projects, it’s especially interesting to identify how one thing can influence another. I hope to hear more solo work in the future in addition to Fresh Cut Collective and Milwaukee Hot Club. If you’d like to hear his solo work live then make sure you’re at the Local Playlist launch party on February 18th.