Rings on the water
Helena Vondráčková & Jazz Q - Kruhy na vodě [sample]
from album "Paprsky", 1978, Supraphon 1132350
arranged by Martin Kratochvíl, produced by Jan Spálený, Mojmír Balling & Květoslav Rohleder
original LP sleeve (front/back)
Helena Vondráčková is without doubt the number one Czech female pop star. With more than 40 years in the show biz she's one of the few still active and still successful veterans from the early days of contemporary Czechoslovak pop music. The complete Vondráčková story is well documented on this English fan site, so I won't go much into details here.
Although she had plenty of top hits in the 1970s with a lot of airplay and TV appearances, her regular albums were neither really great nor very popular, partly because they were too mainstream oriented while lacking obvious hit material. This may have been the reason why she teamed up in early 1978 with jazz-rocker Martin Kratochvíl to record Paprsky (Beams), an album without hits, too, but with lots of exciting and funky music. It wasn't her first collaboration with jazz musicians though, ex-SHQ Luděk Švábenský and his Strýci (a.k.a. Šest strýců) used to be her live backing group in the mid seventies, recording a couple of pop 45s and a quite nice easy listening album in 1974.
Paprsky was recorded by Kratochvíl's regular group Jazz Q with František Francl, Vladimír Padrůněk (1952-1991) and Jaromír Helešic, including a few guests: Michal Gera, Jiří Tomek, Vladimír Merta, Petr Kalandra and Oskar Petr, who also wrote most of the lyrics. Kratochvíl was responsible for all keyboards, arrangements and most compositions. A few songs were penned by Vondráčková's younger brother Jiří Vondráček. Interesting fact in this context is the direct connection to the folk-rock group Marsyas, which I have featured on Funky Czech-In in October: Marsyas used to play live gigs with Jazz Q; Kalandra and Petr appeared on this album; Petr left Marsyas and became Jazz Q's lead singer (until his emigration in 1979) while Helena's brother Jiří Vondráček on the other hand joined Marsyas as Petr's replacement...
Back in the days this LP was considered a very experimental project for a pop singer like Vondráčková. Today it may sound more conventional than originally intended, but compared to her other outings from the late seventies and from the eighties it's still the one Vondráčková album that you might want to own. Paprsky is available as a double CD including the 1980 pure disco album Můzy (Muses a.k.a. Music) which is quite a logical choice. Get it e.g. on cdmusic.cz or on supermusic.cz, you can listen to Ogg Vorbis samples on this official discography page. For vinyl try eBay. Oh, by the way, a couple of her vinyl records from the sixties are available in my web shop, too (items no. 482, 964, 1194, 1197 and 1213).