Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Jiří Stivín – Five Hits In A Row (2018)

Jiří Stivín

Jiří Stivín – flute, saxophone
Zbigniew Seifert – violin
Rudolf Dašek – guitar
Barre Phillips – bass
Petr Marcol – bass
Josef Vejvoda – drums
Milan Vitoch – drums

Five Hits In A Row


GAD 080

By Adam Baruch

This is a long overdue reissue of the legendary album by the Czech Jazz flautist/saxophonist composer/bandleader Jiří Stivín, recorded with an international quintet which included Polish violinist Zbigniew Seifert, American (living in Europe) bassist Barre Phillips and Czech guitarist Rudolf Dašek and drummers Josef Vejvoda or Milan Vitoch. The original album presented five original compositions, with the title track being a five part suite. All the music was composed by Stivín, except one piece composed by Phillips. This remastered and expanded edition adds four bonus tracks, which originate from an earlier album by Stivín (only side A of an LP), recorded a year earlier and featuring a trio with bassist Petr Marcol and drummer Milan Vitoch.

The music is a pinnacle of early Easter European Free Jazz, which flourished behind the Iron Curtain, mostly in Poland but also in Czechoslovakia and GDR (East Germany). Stylistically the music is very similar to the British Free Jazz scene at the time; ferocious, uncompromising and totally committed.

All the participants were great pioneers of modern European Jazz and their contribution to the genre is of course invaluable. The fact that such advanced and free spirited music was recorded and released by the Czechoslovak state record label Supraphon is one of the many miracles that characterize the Jazz scene behind the Iron Curtain and can be understand only by the cognoscenti of that subject. The fact remains that Free Jazz flourished under the Socialist Regime and the albums recorded at the time are some of the best representations of the genre ever created.

As usual, kudos to the Polish GAD Records label for bringing this wonderful music back into circulation. Eastern European Jazz connoisseurs will find this album truly amazing and the younger generations are able to test the phrase "nihil sub sole novum" when they approach Free Jazz and Improvised Music recordings. Overall this is a must have for all collectors and fans of East European Jazz recorded behind the Iron Curtain, as well as connoisseurs of Free Jazz, who wish to study the sources of the genre!

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