Larry Vuckovich is a native of Montenegro, where he’d gotten hooked on jazz via Armed Forces Radio. In 1951 the teenage classically trained pianist moved to the Bay Area and soon began hanging out in San Francisco’s jazz clubs while studying at SF State. Since then he’s moved between San Francisco, Germany and New York City where he worked with dozens of major jazz artists before settling down in Northern California two decades ago and becoming one of the mainstays of the SF jazz scene. Something Special is his 12th recording as a leader and features the full-bodied tenor saxes of East Coaster Scott Hamilton and the Bay Area’s Noel Jewkes, with veterans bassist Paul Keller and drummer Chuck McPherson rounding out the group. With tunes like Thelonious Monk’s “Pannonica” (which gets a delicious solo reading by Vuckovich), Dexter Gordon’s “Cheese Cake” (with the two tenors reminding us of how well Dexter and Wardell Gray worked together), Tadd Dameron’s “Soultrane” (Jewkes gives this ballad a lovely treatment that’s matched by Hamilton’s equally captivating work on “What Will I Tell My Heart”) there’s a lot of great straight-ahead jazz on offer here, and enhancing each tune is Vuckovich’s magnificent piano. Something special is right!