Jazz Celebration


The new board of the Hungarian Jazz Federation, led by drummer Imre Kőszegi as president, started a lively activity in the spring of 1992 with a unique project called “Celebration of Hungarian Jazz.”

The aim of the project, spread over three weeks from April 24 through May 16, was to promote contemporary jazz music through concerts by fifty groups. The program covered several cities, including Békéscsaba (the opening concert), Cegléd, Győr, Tatabánya, Pécs, Szombathely and, of course, Budapest. In the capital four jazz clubs – Merlin, Biliárd 9,30,  Számalk and St. Christoph, hosted the concerts. The participants represented a wide scope of Hungarian jazz, from traditional to neo-avantgarde. Aladár Pege, the Babos trio, the Kőszegi Quartet, the Vukán trio, Shabu Shabu, Brass Age, Molnár Dixieland, Károly Binder, János Gonda, Csaba Deseő, Kati Bontovics, György Szabados, Mihály Dresch and István Grencsó were featured in the program.

The opening ceremony took place in Merlin, where the Gábor Szabó Prize, the first Hungarian award for outstanding jazz contribution, was presented posthumusly to the late drummer Gyula Kovács, who had just died weeks before the ceremony. The medal, designed by painter Lászlo Gyémánt, went with 30 thousand forints. The concert featured the London Jazz Composers Orchestra.

The Celebration of Hungarian Jazz, though oversized a bit and lacking a real breakthrough, was a good starting point for an annual program with the aim to draw more attention to the local jazz scene.

(Jazz Forum, 1992/5-6)