Folk music is the well, pure and simple. Why musicians are drawn to a particular well can be complex; but, almost always, folk music represents the most essential means for personal statements, a starting point that grounds and gives context, regardless of how far afield a musician roams from the conventions of a given folk music tradition. In recent decades, folk music has been a beacon especially for Europeans, partially in response to American hegemony, shifting national borders, and the lingering legacy of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and political and cultural repression. Bottom line: Whatever good there may be in a particular people — and the recent passing of Pete Seeger is emblematic of this — it can be traced from their folk music. And, perhaps ironically, folk music is one of the better means of waking one from the nightmare that is history, if only because folk music has the aura of prehistory.
That aura shines, albeit refracted by well-developed post-modern sensibilities, on both on Eviyan Live, which documents the 2013 Victoriaville festival performance by the trio of Czech singer/violinist Iva Bittová, guitarist Gyan Riley and clarinetist Evan Ziporyn (…) Both albums have ample charm, primarily located in the voices — Bittová’s has an incomparable gliding lightness in its upper register, and smokier tones in her lowest notes, while Torto’s leavens its operatic capacity with sensuous, occasionally sultry color.
Still, both albums are collective efforts (…) Ziporyn’s fluid work frequently dovetails Bittová’s vocalese with supple ease, while providing contrast to her often scampering violin in terms of timbre and, when he switches to bass clarinet, pitch. Playing an acoustic guitar, Riley reveals a familiarity with flamenco, gypsy and other European guitar traditions, as well as the boldness to interject an incisive run or strummed flurry reminiscent of Ralph Towner’s startling early work. (…)
The main difference between the two albums is one of tone, traceable in part to regional differences (…) There’s a peasant whirl to stretches of Eviyan Live (…). Despite their differences, Eviyan Live and Heureux comme avec une femme finely complement each other, as they tap if not the same well, then the same aquifer.