Szilard MEZEI – viola | Péter BEDE – tanor sax, clarinet | Erno HOCK – double bass | Hunor G.SZABÓ – drums
Tracklist: Side A 1. Akkorra / By Then Side B 1. Pakak / Sedges 2. Februari fadöntés / Felling in February
All compositions by Szilard Mezei * Recorded 17th November, 2008 by Balazs Hercig at L.V. Hang Studió, Budapest, Hungary * Mixed M.Sz. * Mastered by Arunas Zujus at MAMAstudios * Cover design by Oskaras Anosovas * Producer Danas Mikailionis * Co-producer – Valerij Anosov
This is the first recording of Szilard Mezei released on LP. Synthesis of free jazz with some elements of folk music makes it an intrigue and challenging recording.
Szilard Mezei | Photo by István Bicskei Bütyök
born February 12th, 1974 in Senta, Serbia (then Yugoslavia) as a member of the Hungarian minority in the multiethnic region of Vojvodina. Completed his violin studies in Senta and Subotica and studied composition for four years at the University of Arts in Beograd under prof. Zoran Eric. As violinist, violist, double bass player and composer and in various formations (from duo to nonett) held many concerts: Senta, Kanizsa (the “Jazz, Improvisative Music…” Festival 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002), Subotica, Novi Sad (all Serbia, then Yugoslavia), Maribor (Slovenija), Szeged (Hungary, ‘MASZK’ Festival 1994, 1997), Budapest (Hungary, ‘FONÓ’ 1997), Gyor (Hungary, ‘Mediawave’ Festivals 1992, 1994, 1995, 2003, 2006, also ‘Gyorfree Impro Workshops’ 2003, 2004, 2006), Gyergyószentmiklós (Romania), Leverkusen (Germany, ‘Leverkusener Jazz Tage’ 1991), Düsseldorff (Germany, ‘Düsseldorffer Altsadt Herbst’ 1996 – special prize for improvisation), Copenhagen and Aarhus (Denmark, ‘Magic Music Festival’ 1999), Kluj-Napoca (Romania, ‘Charta Minimumia Festival’ 2000), Odorhei Secuiesc (Romania), Beograd (Serbia, ‘Ring Ring Festival’ 2002, 2005), Pécs (Hungary, ‘Gassztro Fest’ 2002, ‘POSZT’ 2006), Kishegyes (‘Dombos Fest’ 2003), Copenhagen, Aero, Aalborg, Aarhus (Denmark, 2003 – tour with the Creative Workshop Ensemble), Debrecen (‘Debrecen Jazz Days’ 2003), Klagenfurt (‘CIK’, Austria, 2004), London (‘Klinker Nunhead’, 2005), ‘Cerkno Jazz Fest’ (Slovenia, 2006, 2007), Avignon 2006, Zagreb, Graz , Warszawa (Music Academy), Budapest (Music Academy), Gyor, Subotica, Novi Sad, Debrecen , Vác 2007, Dunajska Streda (Are You Free? Festival), Beograd (Ring Ring Festival 2008, Lasciar Vibrare festival), Budapest (Újbuda Jazz festival 2008), Ljubljana, Krakow (Krakow Jazz Fall 2008, Graz (Stockwerk)…much more on Szilard Mezei can be found by clicking here…
LP version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)
Melding folk music to free jazz in an interesting and intriguing manner, viola player Szilard is joined by Peter Bede on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Erno Hock on bass and Hunor G. Szabo and drums. This is a limited edition vinyl record that really deserves wider recognition especially among fans who enjoy their jazz expanded by different cultural elements. The album begins with “Akkorra/By Then,” the lengthy opening medley that takes up side one of the LP. The music is very exciting and memorable, the closest thing I can compare it to is some of the “world jazz” that has come out of the Tzadik label in recent years. Szilar’s viola swirls and sways through the lengthy improvisation building gales and eddys of music that are matched and commented on by Bede’s saxophone. Hock and Szabo make for an admirable rhythm team keeping the beat wide open and supporting the players throughout. “Pakak/Sedges” takes a different tack, slowing the music to a crawl and opening up the improvisation with plucked viola and gentle shades of clarinet meshing with bass and light percussion to good effect. “Februari Fadöntés/Felling in February” wraps up the album by stepping on the gas and delving into a fast and exciting performance that takes a dynamic route flowing the energy of the music through the ensemble and the individual players. I had been unfamiliar with this band prior to hearing this record and I enjoyed it very much. The ensemble is able to call forth rich textures of music that are continually challenging (in a good way) and consistently interesting.
Serbian-born, Hungarian violist Szilard Mezei leads a quartet of his countrymen through a satisfying program of three multi-sectioned compositions on this limited edition LP. Mezei has become increasingly visible on the international scene, with a string of releases from ensembles of different sizes, and a guest appearance with the The Fonda/Stevens Group. This new foursome features the attractive frontline blend of viola and Peter Bede’s tenor saxophone, recalling the pairing of Billy Bang and Frank Lowe in the Jazz Doctors, but with fewer blues inflections, while the rhythm team of bassist Erno Hock and drummer Hunor Szabo capably shifts between high energy and understatement.
Mezei pens substantive themes drawing on Balkan folk traditions though not subservient to them, which provide material aplenty for the players to seize, soaring and roiling within their boundaries, but never arbitrarily elbowing past them. Evoking haughty but faded grandeur, “Akkora/By Then” creates tension from the off, pitching a slow moving melody against a clattering rubato undercurrent. Tenor and viola launch into the first of many exciting simultaneous flights in what is one of this group’s hallmarks. Mezei is by turns excitable, uncompromising and grandiloquent.
By contrast “Pakak/Sedges” is open and spacious, sketched by viola and clarinet in loose conversation. Mezei steps out, darkly emotional, with lovely accents and shadings on his sustained notes, while Bede’s woody lower register ruminations culminate in multiphonic shrieks. Hock also gets the opportunity to shine here plying a lexicon of arco scrapes, harmonics and percussive taps. The title track is a mid-tempo bounce boasting a tenor outing of jazzy asymmetric phrases and an angular viola offering painted in broad impasto, before more intense interplay. Pulsing pizzicato bass variations, accompanied by off kilter tapping presage a reprise of the head with humorous syncopation to finish off this fine album on a sweet note.
Szilard Mezei, Hungarian violist-composer-bandleader has been as prolific as he has been interestingly progressive. A look on his website reveals quite a few albums released under his leadership. I’ve only heard and reviewed a few for Cadence, but what I heard on those convinced me he was someone to watch.
The new one, a limited-edition LP release, features his Szabad Quartet and is titled Februari Fadontes (No Business NBLP 28). The several previous albums I have reviewed tended to have a dark palette, with the lower register holding a very active place in the mix. In contrast Szilard’s Szabad Quartet has a bit more of the full range, thanks in part to the instrumentation of viola plus the tenor sax and clarinet of Peter Bede, the bass of Erno Hock, and the somewhat bright drumming of Hunor G. Szabado.
This is a free-form date with plenty of room for four-way interplay between the band members. Mezei has his own way with the viola, and Bede plays a tenor and clarinet in ways that aren’t typical–free-form but mostly pure-toned. Hock and Szabado (bass and drums) have an important presence and give depth to the floating suspensions and brooding meditations of Mezei’s music.
This is music that does not wear influences on its sleeve, so to say. It’s quite out of the norm and holds a musical interest that only increases with increasing familiarity. Mezei is fast-proving himself to be one of Europe’s unique avant jazz voices. This is a good one to check out to find out why. I’ll leave it to you. With only 300 copies pressed in this limited vinyl offering, you may want to grab it quickly.