Iva Bittová

j.h.

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The abbreviation j.h. -- this album's title -- stands for "jako host," Czech for guest artist. This album is not a follow-up to Iva Bittová's 2001 album Cikori. Instead it collects the enrapturing singer's collaborative work of the past 15 years. For the lazy fan it means that most of her appearances on other people's discs have been gathered here. For the more casual listener it results in a bland album, eclectic in style and lacking in highlights, with the exception of the two cuts from her CD with the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble. The earliest tracks are taken from her 1987 album with Pavel Fajt, the freshest is "Pax Nita," a solo voice piece previously unreleased and recorded in October 2002. The orchestral tracks mentioned above and "Gloomy Sunday" from the soundtrack of The Men Who Cried represent one tip of a musical triangle. Another pole is the singer's activities in avant-pop, represented by tracks from her album with Dunaj and collaborations with Pavel Fajt's Pluto (two cuts from their first CD) and Geert Waegeman (from Vegetal Digitables). The third direction leads to folk and adult contemporary pop: one track each from Bratri Ebenové's 1995 and 2002 discs, two off gypsy singer Ida Kelarová's Ida Kelarová a Hosté, another from Lubos Novotny's Venku z Travy. An effort was made to produce a coherent-sounding track list (even if it meant ditching the chronology), but the listener nevertheless comes out of it with the impression that he/she has heard a lot of different things, but nothing out of the ordinary. There are little signs of Bittová's magic at play here and j.h. doesn't work as a genuine "best of." Approach it as an "odds and ends" collection for the devoted only.

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