Debrecen Jazz Days
The I5th Debrecen Jazz Days, held on July 24-27, featured the finals of a jazz competition sponsored by Hungarian Radio. After more than a decade’s break, the competition focused attention on a new generation of young and talented musicians. The jury included an international roster of musicians, promoters, and critics, such as Aki Takase, Horst Weber, Aladár Pege, Bert Noglik and János Gonda. The Grand Prize was given to Károly Binder, a 30-year-old pianist who, in his impressive set of original compositions synthesized different kinds of musical elements in a “world music” concept.
Other prize winners were the cool-based No-Spa quartet, the Synapsis modern chamber orchestra, and the Vasvári combo which played fusion music.
In all honesty, without the competition, the festival would have been very mediocre. Among the highlights were James “Blood” Ulmer, Aki Takase, Jasper van’t Hof, the Manfred Schulze Quintet, and some fine moments in the performances by Poland’s New Presentation, Tone Jansa Group, and Bireli Lagrene (though with a blues-rock set). Hungary’s jazz scene was represented by Aladár Pege, János Gonda, the Supertrio (with American vibraphonist Tommy Vig), Rudolf Tomsits, Béla Szakcsi Lakatos, the Dresch Quartet, the Benkó Dixieland Band, the Debrecen Dixieland Band, Gyula Babos, Péter S. Horváth, and the Things Combo, led by Tony Lakatos.
The biggest problem was probably lack of funding. There is no doubt that more financial support is needed to help develop this worthy jazz program. Otherwise it may lose its central inspirational role in the country's jazz life.
(Jazz Forum, 1986/5)