Sunday, March 08, 2020

Hungary Freaks, Daddy

We will rejoinder the Wes Montgomery post with the birthday of another guitar stalwart who only lived to his mid-40s, but like Wes made the most of his time.
He's been gone for almost 40 years, but his playing still sounds so alive and fresh.
Born in Budapest, he started 60 years ago in the band of Chico Hamilton, and when saxophone superman Charles Lloyd branched off from that group a few years later, our birthday boy went with him.
He started making records as a leader in 1966, and soon he began to be recognized. 
His song "Gypsy Queen," first cut in the mid-Sixties, ended up in the repertoire of Carlos Santana, who revered his playing and was one of his biggest champions.
In the 1970s he really exploded, emphasizing funkier sounds and cutting several seminal LPs for Creed Taylor's legendarily smooth CTI label.
He died suddenly at the beginning of 1982, of liver and kidney disease.
Definitely one of the most underrated guitar players ever to strap it on, his music is never far from my personal playlist since I first heard his stuff in the 1980s.
Born in 1936, his name was Gábor Szabó and he'd have been 84 years old today.
We've got a few treats to celebrate the occasion, chief of which is this ridiculous concert -- as far as I can determine, the only archival item of him as a leader -- from the Sansui Quadraphonic "New World of Jazz" series that was on the radio in the mid-'70s.
I worked on this for a while to get the guitar more up front, as it was a bit buried. Someday I will raid radio stations dressed as a Ninja, and liberate all the quad masters of all of these Sansui broadcasts once and for all.
Gábor Szabó Quartet
Agora Ballroom
Cleveland, Ohio USA

01 Charlie Kendall "New World of Jazz" intro
02 Charlie Kendall intro of Gábor Szabó
03 It Happens
04 Autumn Leaves
05 Magical Connection
06 Concorde (Nightflight)
07 Charlie Kendall outro

Total time: 54:30

Gábor Szabó - guitar
rest of band unidentified, possibly:
Bobby "The Genie" Lyle - piano
Raymond Earl - bass 
Scotty Miller - drums

FM "New World of Jazz" quad reel, probably captured off-air in stereo
remastered by EN March 2020, using the Sound Forge 11 Graphic EQ, Graphic Dynamics and Noise Reduction tools
to bring the guitar more to the fore
OK, you've read this far, so you get a reward.
There are two albums of Szabó's that are somehow unreissued in the digital age. They may never be, as his masters were among those lost in that tragic Universal Studios fire in 2008.
Thankfully all of his other LPs got reissued before the tapes were destroyed -- gosh, I love the music industry, don't you? -- but these two only exist as utterly delicious 24/96 high definition vinyl transfers.
I have taken the liberty of making these into 16/44 CD Redbook audio, and have placed them cloudward. One, 1970's Magical Connection, can be found right here. The other -- an incredible live record from 1972 that sees a cameo from Charles Lloyd, and is imaginatively titled Gábor Szabó Live with Charles Lloyd -- can be found right here
I shall return after a short break with another birthday of another essential muso, but do get after all these spellbinding Gábor Szabó goodies as we celebrate his b'day today! I had a feeling you were Hungary.--J.
3.8.1936 - 2.26.1982


  1. along with larry coryell gabor was the first jazz guitar player i got into. turns out he was important in larry's life too. and he led me to django.