Tag Archives: CD

Oláh Szabolcs Quintet: Crystal Brook

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A brand new album from Hungary found it’s way to my mailbox.
Jazz guitarist, composer and arranger Szabolcs Oláh released his latest album “Crystal Brook” on September 6.

Szabolcs Oláh started his first quartet in 2002, which won awards in Hungary and Italy and he is one of the founding members of the Modern Art Orchestra. He leads his own quintet since 2012. The current line-up of the quintet is:

Szabolcs Oláh – guitar
János Ávéd – saxophone
Gábor Cseke – piano
Ádám Bögöthy – double bass
László Csízi – drums

The album was recorded in April 2019 and contains 10 original songs all composed by Szabolcs. He says about this album: “My intention for the compositions was to keep it simple, smooth and crystal clear, yet dynamic, like a japanese calligraphy”.

He also told me how he wrote the songs:  “My method for composing for this album was quite simple. I sat down in the morning at the piano and I improvised. Sometimes these improvisations became songs that I wrote down and started to collect.”

The first song is called “Pearls” which has an energetic intro and a beautiful melody played unison by sax and guitar (a characteristic which we will hear in many other songs on this album). Dynamics are reduced at the beginning of Szabolcs’ solo, but increase throughout his solo. The second solo goes to János Ávéd on saxophone, followed by a piano solo. Bass and drums support the soloists perfectly, this song is great opener for the album.

“The Last Teardrop” is a melancholic tune, again with a lovely melody and a superb piano solo by Gábor Cseke.

“Return to the Park” is the next song and Szabolcs has some background information: “It’s about the joy of returning to play music with my friends, like a child that enjoys to play in the park. Between 2010 and 2012 I was ill and I rarely played live, so this song is also about the recovery”. A song that has a lot of positive vibrations and became one of my highlights on the album.

“Never Again” is a soft song with many modulations, quite complex harmonic structures. Szabolcs’ solo however floats easily over these harmonies.

“Dawn Rider” comes next. Szabolcs has more details: “The song is about a motorcyclist, driving fast into the dawn after breaking up with his love”. A song that is sad and happy at the same time. The band has produced a nice video from the recoding session of this song:

“Runaway” is my second highlight on this album. It starts with a great guitar intro, it has an incredible melody and fantastic solos by guitar, soprano saxophone, bass and piano.

“Crystal Brook” the title song is like a romantic painting. Szabolcs explains: “This song reminds me of moonlight gleaming on a crystal clear mountain brook.”

The next tune is called “Good Boy” and it’s about the young Szabolcs, “a well-behaved and dutiful child”, as he told me. The melody sounds like nursery rhyme but opens nicely for the solos.

“Unfolding Life” is much softer and slower but still has its pace and allows for brillant solos.

The album ends with the ballad “Lunar Muse”. The melody has some “tension and release” as Szabolcs told me. Gábor Cseke plays another excellent piano solo and the album ends in deep melancholy. Very impressive.

Szabolcs Oláh has played some concerts in the last few weeks with his quintet and he said “the feedback on the new album was very positive and inspiring”. There are more concerts to come so if you plan to visit Budapest, check for the local jazz scene because it has some great musicians including Szabolcs and his quintet or the Modern Art Orchestra. Please check for dates on his website:
https://www.szabolcsolahmusic.com/

The album is available on Spotify:

 

Jay Lawrence: Sonic Paragon

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An album that was released in August 2018 from drummer Jay Lawrence caught recently my attention. The major reason for that was the line-up of this album:

  • Jay Lawrence – drums
  • John Patituci – bass
  • Renee Rosnes – piano
  • Harry Allen – saxophone
  • Terell Stafford – trumpet
  • Anthony Wilson – guitar
  • Yotam Silberstein – guitar
  • Romero Lubambo – guitar

Three excellent guitar players, one of the best bass players on the scene and a great saxophonist for an album of a drummer: a very interesting  combination that works perfectly. The result is an album that contains a combination of originals, standards and a cover version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic”.  The same variety is equally found in the arrangements. You find easy grooves, swing tunes, different latin styles, straight jazz and ballads.

The album starts with “Full Moon in Havanna”, a soft and relaxed song, dominated by the saxophone and Romero Lubambo on acoustic guitar.

“What ‘ll I do” is an old Irving Berlin tune in an fantastic new arrangement featuring Jay Lawrence in the syncopated played melody. The solos are accompanied by a straight swinging band.

“Vamonos” comes with a samba groove and features Terell Stafford on trumpet and Yotam Silberstein on guitar. Jay Lawrence gets another chance to shine soloing over an extended montuno.

“Slide” is in contrast a very slow blues. We hear solos by John Patituci on bass, Renee Rosnes on piano and a outstanding plunger muted trumpet solo by Terell Stafford.

“Maria” from the musical “West Side Story” in a fantastic new latin version comes next. Nice grooving band again with Roberto Lubambo on acoustic guitar.

“Dayspring” is a soft ballad featuring Harry Allen on saxophone and Renee Rosnes on piano in two great solos.

“From Nadir to Zenith” is a heavy grooving tune with Terell Stafford on muted trumpet in an alternating solo with Anthony Wilson on guitar.

The title song “Sonic Paragon” comes next. This is a straight-ahead jazz song with impressive solos by Harry Allen on saxophone and Anthony Wilson on guitar.

“Tchoupitoulas” is a song with a special groove and sound, dominated by the trumpet and very much inspired by New Orleans brass band sound.

“Golden Ratio” is a modern jazz tune with sax and Yotam Silberstein on guitar playing the melody interrupted by an interlude in a Reggae groove, very sophisticated.

“Crosstown Traffic” by Jimi Hendrix in a modern jazz-style  up-tempo arrangement is the next song. Solos go to saxophone and Yotam Silberstein on guitar and their playing fits perfectly into this song. A drum solo tops this tune off.

The album closes with a easy swinging “My Winsome Consort” with a Monk-inspired piano solo by Renee Rosnes. Harry Allen plays a smooth saxophone solo and shows his versatility to adapt to different styles. An alternating bass and drum solo guarantee that this song gets it’s special touch.

Overall “Sonic Paragon” is a great album that captivated me with it’s perfect playing, it’s versatility and it’s surprising elements in every song. So take your time to listen to the songs carefully and you will detect the excellence of the material and the musicians.

Listen to the whole album with this playlist on Spotify: