Monday, May 28, 2012

Elek Bacsik – Bird & Dizzy

Violin was never typical jazz instrument. It was present in every style of jazz music, but in most cases rather as a margin than mainstream. This was despite the fact that the violin is an instrument for the full possibilities of improvisation. The typical spectrum of jazz instruments and bands sound has been created at a time when jazz was dance music and the subtle, soft sound of the violin did not always corresponded to the expected level of expression of jazz instruments. In early jazz most famous were Snoozer Quinn guitarist and violinist known of being member of Paul Whiteman Orchestra, Joe Venuti known for his prolific recordings of his New York period in twentieth and thirties. In pre-war Paris played Eddie South and Stephane Grappelli streaming European jazz in alternate direction. This time in USA started Stuff Smith, the first violinist who amplified his instrument and first who played violin in the way opposite to classical style. He was known in swing era, but became very active in bop style. And this was the moment for violin to become more and more jazzy.
Elek Bacsik was born 1926 in Budapest family of Romani ethnicity. He started to play violin and studied in Budapest Conservatory. Later he made some musical journeys to Lebanon, Portugal, Spain and Italy. He was known as a cousin of Django Reinhardt, but trifling this relation saying “We Gypsies are all related”. In Switzerland he heard records of bee-bop and this changed his point of view. Interviewed by Leonard Feather he said: “I was fascinated by this music. I bought the whole series – everything I could find by Dizzy and Bird. Finally, in Italy in 1954, I got to meet Dizzy”. He just switched to guitar and begun to play jazz. He was recording as sideman with Dizzy Gillespie on first two of his Phillips albums – Dizzy on the French Riviera (1962) and New Wave (1963), with Serge Gainsbourg – Gainsbourg Confidentiel (1963) and some other French artists. In early sixties he recorded his own four records as guitarist for Phillips and Fontana labels.

Elek Bacsik – Bird & Dizzy – A Musical Tribute (1975)

In 1966 Elek Bacsik went to USA and since 1967 he lived in Las Vegas playing in casinos like Riviera, Hilton, Sahara and many other but he was unable to express himself, willing to play in jazz clubs and festivals. In 1974, playing violin and violectra, he recorded his first American album I Love You for Bob Thiele label. The same year Elek Bacsik played with Dizzy Gillespie in Newport Jazz Festival. And in 1975 Flying Dutchman label published his last album Bird & Dizzy – A Musical Tribute. This record is worth to keep in memory. The level of professional merit can be noticed since the very first bars of this album. Charlie Parker’s Ko-Ko theme and original Parker’s solo transcribed by Bacsik was recorded one layer after another first violin and then octave lower on violectra. The results are astonishing. The sound is thick, intense and expressive but still soft and warm. This warm violin gives the power for beautiful solo in Parker’s Mood. The Night in Tunisia Bacsik introduces playing in Arabic scale, then theme plays trumpetist Oscar Brashear and then Med Flory on alto sax, Mike Wofford on piano and Elek Bacsik on electric violin play solos.
Theme Moose the Mooche is played by Elek Bacsik in unison with Oscar Brashear and Warne Marsh who are are improvising. Warne Marsh is especially worth paying attention. He was a great improviser and one of pillars in Supersax group, though his solos can be heard on very rare recordings. Album consists of great job made by two bass players Chuck Domanico and Buddy Clark and drummer Shelly Mane. Whole material was arranged and conducted by Oliver Nelson, jet another great musician. This tribute record was intended also as a kind of comeback to mainstream of jazz scene. Kind-hearted back cover essay by Leonard Feather and whole edition produced by Bob Thiele occurred miscalculation. Record went virtually unnoticed what was artist's personal failure. He died 18 years later, leaving no more recordings. Time has changed the market and only well established names has their places in public mind. And once more artistic quality has nothing to do with the market.

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