537

George Mraz / Iva Bittova: Moravian Gems

Kurt Gottschalk By

Sign in to view read count
Over some twenty years of recording, the Czech violinist and singer Iva Bittova has done folk, classical and new music, recording with guitarist Fred Frith among others. What she hadn't done, by her own admission, was venture into jazz.

That changed when she began working with her countryman, bassist George Mraz. Mraz worked with both the Stan Getz quartet and Czech pianist Emil Viklicky in the 1970s, and has continued to be a sought-after player in the decades since. In 1997, Mraz and Viklicky's paths crossed again and they started planning an album of interpretations of music from the Southern Moravia region of their homeland. Vickily suggested Bittova—a charismatic performer known as much for her acting as her music in the Czech Republic—and with drummer Laco Tropp they began to formulate the remarkable blend of jazz and folk music on Moravian Gems.

Without a horn in the lineup, the band's playing is soft and smooth and at least a little reminiscent of Getz's Cuban experiments. Nobody pushes the music too firmly into either jazz or Czech folds. The songs are just what they are: models for improvisation, if with a bit of a Bill Evans tinge. The project works and works well, because of the players' deep familiarity with both sides of the equation. They play both the traditional melodies and the jazz voicings with heart. And Bittova is a sensitive enough collaborator that she responds to the jazzy mode of the proceedings. Moravian Gems is as much steeped in American as Czech music and is satisfying from both angles.

Track Listing: Destiny; Austerlitz; Oh Love Love; Pennyroyal; A Little Bird's Flown Over; Walking From Peszt; Sinfonietta; Dying of Love; Little Apple; In The Town Of Olomouc; Fetching Water; Sweet Basil; A Little Wreath; Gossip.

Personnel: George Mraz: bass; Iva Bittova: vocals, violin; Emil Viklicky: piano; Laco Tropp: drums.

Title: Moravian Gems | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Cube-Metier


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Two in a Box CD/LP/Track Review Two in a Box
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Discussions CD/LP/Track Review Discussions
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "Sounding Tears" CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 16, 2017
Read "The Fever: The Remastered Epic Recordings" CD/LP/Track Review The Fever: The Remastered Epic Recordings
by Doug Collette
Published: April 9, 2017
Read "The Company I Keep" CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 9, 2017
Read "Plays New Zealand" CD/LP/Track Review Plays New Zealand
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2016
Read "Sonic Cinema" CD/LP/Track Review Sonic Cinema
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 1, 2017
Read "Kingdom" CD/LP/Track Review Kingdom
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 20, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.