Hungarian Notes


This year’s Budapest Spring Festival featuring drama, music and art was, for financial reasons, unable to include foreign jazz musicians. As a result, the three-evening event was devoted solely to Hungarian jazz. Featured were such top musicians as György Szabados, the János Gonda-Frigyes Pleszkán duo, and the Béla Szakcsi Lakatos-Gyula Babos duo. One concert highlighted a Hungarian-Yugoslavian workshop. The Benkó Dixieland Band provided entertainment at one of Budapest’s most exclusive restaurants for ten consecutive evenings.

Without doubt, the major event of the spring was the highly successful debut concert of the Pat Metheny Group at the inauguration of Budapest's new Congress Center on April 8. Over 2,000 fans, including many leading jazz and pop musicians who had turned out to see the latest in digital equipment, gave the group a warm reception. The technical display was quickly forgotten when the audience heard Metheny’s and Mays’ richly melodic and senti-mental music, which was a good blend of acoustic and electric sound. There are rumors of ad-ditional concerts for the group in late autumn.

In June, the well-known American RQVA Saxophone Quartet played three concerts at Club Kassák, which is a meeting point for new directions in jazz and contemporary music. The quartet revealed its dexterity with both chamber-type and avant-garde pieces to about 150 listeners per evening. On one occasion, they were joined by two young Hungarian reedmen, Mihály Dresch and István Grencsó.

Summer offerings included the Debrecen Jazz Days on July 18-21 and two clinics for musicians and fans. One of these, a week-long course in Százhalombatta for students of music schools and other beginhers, was led by professor János Gonda and included such leading musicians and teachers as drummer Imre Kőszegi, pianist Béla Szakcsi Lakatos, and guitarist Gyula Babos. In addition, the third Sikonda jazz camp was organized in August for fans and club members, with a program devoted to Hungarian jazz.

Despite financial difficulties over the past few years, Hungarian jazz has witnessed the birth of big bands in various parts of the country. As a result, a concert was organized in Székesfehérvár for four big bands from the following towns: Pécs; Szekszárd, Szombathely and the host city, which offered a brand-new band sponsored by the Videoton Electroacoustic Factory. Although many Hungarian musicians do not deal exclusively with jazz, the success of the concerts proves that there are those all over the country who need to express themselves with such orchestrated jazz music. Of course, they need the support of sponsoring firms and cultural centers.

(Jazz Forum, 1985/5)