Sunday, May 31, 2015

Szabados Quartet – Az esküvő

   When jazz in Hungary was in first stages of its development, progress led to esthetic stratification - most of audience was still close to dance music, while some artists were playing more complicated and expressive kinds of music. It was beyond acceptance of public considering jazz as popular music. No wonder in centrally managed system of state culture has any proper space for many experiments. Most professional part of avant-garde music was counted as contemporary academic music, even if it was in best part improvised. More popular, based on rhythm patterns and harmonic changes was credited as part of popular music. In seventies there were two leading labels in Hungary, Pepita recording all genres of popular music, including jazz, and Hungaroton publishing recordings of artistic music, historic and avant-garde. As both were run by the same state, catalogue numbers were not duplicated. Most of jazz music was published by Pepita, although there were exclusions.
   There is one at least record being published under these two labels, this is Szabados Quartet album Az esküvő (The Wedding). The record labels were printed with Pepita logo, and front cover was designed with Hungaroton logo, both with the same catalogue number (SLPX 17475). Back cover includes lots of informations with linear notes in Hungarian, English and Russian, but besides the catalogue number has no indication on any label. This situation is easy to understand reading fragment opening notes where editor reffers to the traditions of Hungarian folk music, as well to the experiences and achievements of contemporary academic music or to influences of progressive American jazz. Probably on various phases of production various genre qualifications were considered. And such hesitance is fully justified in many fragments this music sounds like controlled performance of a composed works.

Szabados Quartet – Az esküvő (1974)

   The leader of the ensemble, György Szabados was one of founding fathers of modern Hungarian jazz. Although he was playing free jazz in 1962, his first success took place ten years later, in 1972, when he won Grand Prize of San Sebastian Jazz Festival. The album of Szabados Quartet was the first album of György Szabados and can be regarded as first avant-garde jazz album in Hungary. It was recorded in various sessions, two compositions on first side were recorded in 1974, and two on second side were played in 1973. Published in 1975 and titled after opening composition Az esküvő, album is surprisingly homogeneous. Folk rhythms and melodic patterns are elements of starting material. Complicated with polyrhythmic structures, enhanced by modal scales, the whole thematic material was developed into tick structures with characteristic intensity remaining folk music.
   The material is 4 compositions by György Szabados, Az esküvő (The Wedding), Improvisatio – Zongora – Hegedű Duó (Duo for piano and violin), Miracle and Szabó Irma Vallatasa (The Interrogation of Irma Szabo). Even though instruments of the quartet have classical and jazz tradition, musicians use harmonics and articulations originated in Hungarian folklore. The ensemble was established on the foundation of interaction between pianist György Szabados and violinist Lajos Horváth. Both musicians are in complex relations with section, playing upper bass Sandor Vajda and drummer Imre Kőszegi. Whole program of the album is powerful example of post free progressive jazz in seventies.
   This was also perfect start for musicians. In next decade they became internationally acclaimed creative musicians. György Szabados was recognized avant-garde pianist. He was recording with Anthony Braxton (Szabraxtondos, 1985), Roscoe Mitchell and Vladimir Tarasov. Most prolific musical personality is Imre Kőszegi who was playing with Zbigniew Namysłowski, Jiří Stivín, Charlie Mariano, Allan Praskin and Frank Zappa. Also Sandor Vajda was active playing with György Szabados (Adyton, 1983) and with Benkó Dixieland Band. The contribution of quartet members, consequent exertion of the idea merging creative jazz with Hungarian traditions and academic avant-gardism make this album one of significant moments in the history of Hungarian jazz. Four stars without any doubt.

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