An Universal Dialect (György Szabados: Time Flies)


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One of the top issues concerning the development of jazz is the contribution of ethnic dialects to the universal language of improvisation.

Despite the redrawing of the map of Europe in the beginning of the 1990's, little is known about the alternative music traditions of the countries formerly isolated by the infamous "iron curtain" though, according to many, this part of the Globe is bound to bring fresh impulses to the cultural activity of the Western world. As the music on this disc clearly indicates it, the art of Hungarian pianist/composer/bandleader György Szabados is a genuine manifestation of this process.

Born in 1939, he formed his first band in 1955. By the early 60’s he was playing free jazz, an unorthodox type of music which, with its spontaneous emotional impact and the unusually complex harmonic and rhythmic structures, was born parallel with the avantgarde trends of American jazz, especially the music of Cecil Taylor, John Coltrane and Archie Shepp. His groundbreaking LP, entitled “The Wedding”, was released in 1974 and quickly became a classic with its unique blend of Hungarian music, jazz improvisation and the compositional methods of contemporary music. While, due to his uncompromising commitment, he was for years disregarded in his native land, the 80’s finally brought the deserved international recognition for him. His art was especially highly regarded in the German speaking countries, where he performed at the Daxberg Festival, the oper of Cologne and The Alternative Music Festival in Vienna, and many other prestigious venues. As a denial of the proverb that no one is prophet in his own country, in 1985 he was awarded Hungarys top musical performing decoration, the “Ferenc Liszt”-prize. His meetings with Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell, representatives of the Chicago black avantgarde, resulted in a series of concerts and recordings released in Hungary. It was amazing how easily these musicians, arriving from different backgrounds, could find a common language of artistic expression, irrespective of distance, ideology and the colour of the skin.

Szabados is not only a pianist and a composer, but also a poet, a philosopher, and a school­setter musician, surrounded by a dedicated group of followers. His vast but under­documented oeuvre transcends the idiom of jazz. In an attempt to escape from the aesthetic and commercial barriers that determine Western art forms, he simply calls his pieces “music”. The key words to his art are perhaps "discipline" and "naturalness", terms relating to his deep-seated conviction regarding the innate, pure musicality and creative capacity of every single human being. Ever since he started paling music, he has been guided by the need for the freedom of expression, an unaffected, open state of mind that helps to bring forth the inner vibrations of the soul through interactive communication. It is this free spirit and the challenge of creativity that attracted him to jazz, claiming that it is the most unique and impressive music of this passing, multicultural twentieth century.

It may be a matter of perspective to define what a dialect is. To this listener, a Hungarian himself, the music on this CD is not a dialect. It is a powerful statement of an artist who has dedicated his life to the artistic expression of the synthesis of tradition and modernity, morality and eternity, own’s own identity and the concerns of humanity. It is a deeply personal music of universal appeal. It is the music of György Szabados.

(Liner notes to Time Flies by György Szabados. November Music, 2000)