CD REVIEW

Lipa goes strong with his team

YOU'RE walking through a smoke-filled jazz club, your eyes scanning the grainy darkness for love or maybe a new affair, a slight sway to your step. A low voice reaches out over the triplets and descending piano chords as a clarinet spins a thin, sweet melody.

The Peter Lipa Band - Live at the Akropolis, Prague
Released by:Indies Records, Czech Republic
Available at:Dr Horák, Medená 19, Bratislava, or www.drhorak.sk
Price:Sk 299



YOU'RE walking through a smoke-filled jazz club, your eyes scanning the grainy darkness for love or maybe a new affair, a slight sway to your step. A low voice reaches out over the triplets and descending piano chords as a clarinet spins a thin, sweet melody. Sure this is your night, you're swept away in the atmosphere, its elegance and passion, and let yourself savour the rapture of Prosperita, one of a number of rich tunes by the pioneer of Slovak jazz known as The Peter Lipa Band.

Peter Lipa has been performing for over 40 years, drawing inspiration from Ray Charles' style and Joe Cocker's gravely voice. Famous for his renditions of Beatles songs, which don't really resemble the original versions at all except for their lyrics, Lipa made it a point to keep active throughout socialism, including Czechoslovakia's norma-lization period, during which jazz was officially proclaimed to be "spreading unacceptable views among youth."

The band's grasp of jazz's fundamentals is immediately obvious: Prosperita is a classic example of the soulful, bluesy Kansas City style, Lipa excels in scat, improvisation is ubiquitous, and the orchestra's bold independence is expressed through a framework of airtight, solid unison.

Slovak singer Jana Kirschner's sensual voice heated things up in Život ma neraz prehol cez koleno, but her and Lipa's other duet, Alright, Okay, You Win, wasn't playful enough, and should've exuded more snap to the text and reckless abandon.

Any Lipa album would be remiss without some of his Beatles covers. I Saw Her Standing There was an excellent forum for harmonica player Ondřej Konrád to show off his vast expertise and musicality. His improv was full of agility and distinctive flavour.

Málo had the rhythm and energy of rock, which is appropriate for Fusion style jazz, with guitarist Zdeněk Bína jamming an especially impressive and exciting improv. Bína had already shone brightly in Domáci kutil, a duet in which Lipa spends almost two straight minutes scatting Bína's fast-paced, pizzicato notes.

Overall, one is continually struck by the truly superior quality of the musicians with whom Lipa collaborates, such as saxophone/clarinet player Michal Žáček, whose give and take with Lipa in Dobré skutky shows imagination, sensitivity, and complete control.

With 40 years' experience, and more than a little help from a handful of world-class musicians, Lipa's obviously still going strong.

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