Elida – Iva Bittová, violin and vocals (with Bang on a Can); Cantaloupe Records

by | Jun 22, 2005 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Elida – Iva Bittová, violin and vocals (with Bang on a Can); Cantaloupe CA21027, 46:32 [Distr. by Naxos] ***1/2:A fusion of jazz and alternative rock, Elida is a quirky off-center
joy, one that reveals new surprises with each listening. I’ll go
farther than that: it grows wiggly hairy appendages each time you slap
it on your machine. Featuring Czech performance artist Iva Bittova and
the fun-loving Bang on a Can gang, this CD is so unique, there are few
stylistic consistencies surprises between cuts. Bittova puts her mezzo
voice through such acrobatics, it’s a wonder she can concentrate enough
to play the violin. In between singing chanteuse-style, she coos,
chuckles, giggles, groans, and babbles, all with great effect. If you
can get past the first cut, letting its restrained zaniness poke
through, you’re ready for the ride.

Most of the songs are based on Czech poetry, including the tender title
cut, which sounds like a love song, but ends up being a paean to a bar
of soap. Bolis Me Lasko abruptly changes tone and tempo halfway
through; its piano obbligato may leave you scratching your head in
bewildered wonder. Bang on a Can members don’t quite cut loose as much
they did on a previous CD (Bang on a Can Meets Kyaw Kyaw Naing);
indeed, some of their cuts sound languid and night-clubby. But there is
plenty to recommend this disc, like the slow tease of Hopahop Talita
before it almost tips over the edge.

The one thing I don’t like about this Adventureland ride of a CD is its
length (46:32). Call me a hidebound crab tree, but there’s no excuse
for a modern disc skimping on its track time–give me fifty-five
minutes and I’m happy. Clarinetist Evan Ziporyn could have injected a
few wild three- minute solos. As usual, don’t look for program notes on
the disc sleeve; they put them here: www.cantaloupemusic.com.

– Peter Bates

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