I’ll say it straight-off. Szilard Mezei is one of the most interesting jazz composer-instrumentalist-bandleaders active in Europe today. If you don’t know of him much, it’s because his releases do not shout out their existence, exactly. They are mostly small quantity albums on important but hardly mass-marketed avant jazz boutique labels, which I often favor–as of course regular readers know. A near-perfect example of the sort of release I speak of is his new one on No Business, a fine label out of Lithuania. This one is an LP pressed in only 300 copies, Szilard Mezei Tubass Quartet’s Canons – Second Hosting (No Business NBLP 56). This one may not jump out at you right away. That’s probably in part due to the very unusual instrumentation: Szilard and three others on contrabass and a tuba player!
The sound is dark and burnished. The improvisation out front, the compositional motives typical Mezei in that they bear his autographic stamp–the way of irregular phrasing, repositioning tonal commonplaces so that they become unusual. This may not be one to start with if you want to know about his music. My blogs cover a good number of those so search here and on the Gapplegate Guitar blog and you’ll find others. But there nonetheless is the characteristic daring presence on this one that makes Szilard an artist to listen to closely. —Grego Applegate Edwards Continue reading
The disk stands out for its very intriguing, substantial large ensemble new jazz compositions, the distinctive sound of the band, Szilard’s working of traditional Hungarian, eastern European folk elements into the mix here and there, and the improvisational heft of the band as a whole. It is music that is very original, and as such difficult to describe in words. It’s very beautiful, and this is an excellent album. If you are looking for something different on the new jazz scene, here it is! — Gapplegate Music Review Continue reading
If, as they say, the stick or rod is a part of the world-tree then this must be as true for the bow of the viola as it is for the flute, oboe, clarinet, tuba, or drumstick. Expert users of this bow are motivated by a quest for the path leading to the world-tree. As I imagine things, the person who draws his bow across his instrument knows that since they belong to the world-tree, sound and silence are not two separate things, but spring from the same stem. Because the root of these two things is one, silence cannot be the absence of sound, and sound is able to become music by virtue of the fact that it does not merely fill a space, but also creates that space. Accordingly, the person who having heard the silence stands centre-stage and calls forth sound with his bow creates and opens up a whole world. — Tibor Várszegi | Translated from the Hungarian by Chris Sullivan Continue reading
Szilárd Mezei is a contemporary European violinist, violist, double bass player, composer and leader of various formations; he is perhaps the greatest hope of European jazz violin since the tragic death of Polish violin master Zbigniew Seifert in 1979. Szilárd Mezei was born February 12th, 1974 in Senta, Serbia (then Yugoslavia) as a member of the Hungarian minority in the multiethnic region of Vojvodina. He completed his violin studies in Senta and Subotica and studied composition for four years at the University of Arts in Belograd under prof. Zoran Eric. He plays contemporary improvised music, mostly performing his own compositions. As a composer, Mezei is interested in exploring the relationship between improvisation and composition (similarly to Witold Lutoslawski’s aleatoric and Anthony Braxton’s creative music methods), incorporating elements of jazz and authentic folk music as well. As a young musician he followed the path of B.Bartók and Gy.Szabados. Mezei is also very actively involved in composing scenic music and plays authentic Hungarian folk music on genuine folk instruments (koboz and oud). He leads the Szilárd Mezei Trio, Szilárd Mezei Quintet (/ Sextet / Septet / Octet), and plays in many formations (duo, trio, etc.) for improvising music (among others, in duet with György Szabados, and with his own orchestra MAKUZ, The Fonda/Stevens Group. This CD presents Szilard’s trio, performing fascinating blend of jazz, classical, and traditional ethnic folk music. Continue reading