537

George Mraz / Iva Bittova: Moravian Gems

Kurt Gottschalk By

Sign in to view read count
George Mraz / Iva Bittova: Moravian Gems
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.

Album information

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

Tags

View events near New York City
Jazz Near New York City
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop Amazon

More

Read Blue Has A Range
Blue Has A Range
Steve Cardenas
Read BLIK
BLIK
Radio Bévort
Read Disturbed Nature
Disturbed Nature
Meerkat Parade
Read Chaos
Chaos
Julius Windisch Quartet
Read Chicago Waves
Chicago Waves
Carlos Niño / Miguel Atwood-Ferguson
Read Last Desert
Last Desert
Liberty Ellman
Read Catch Me If You Can
Catch Me If You Can
Jeff Hamilton Trio

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.