Rites of Spring


The Budapest Spring Festival – an event mainly intended to give foreign visitors a repre­sentative sampling of the capital’s rich cultural life – included a series of jazz concerts organized in cooperation with Hungarian Radio. There were festival appearances in March  by  the Benkó Dixieland Band with special  guests Ernie Wilkins and Harry “Sweets” Edison, the Paul Motian Band, a Finnish-Hungarian Workshop featuring Aladár Pege and Eero Koivistoinen, and groups led by violinist Csaba Deseő and pianist György Szabados. The programs included the premieres of several works commissioned by Hungarian Radio.

In the provinces, some smaller towns have been showing a growing interest in jazz. In Salgótarján, the local cultural authorities in cooperation with the jazz faculty of the town’s music school, organized a successful dixieland festival presenting amateur and professional groups from Hungary, England and the G.D.R. In the south, the town of Pécs hosted a festival for amateur bands from Western Hungary. The aim of the festival was to showcase the talents of younger musicians who often work in the shadow of the professionals centered in Budapest. The festival had originally been planned for Székesfehérvár, but financial diffi-culties forced the move to Pécs.

However, Székesfehérvár did host the Videoton Interjazz Festival (May 26-27), an event held every third year. On the first day, there were performances by Hungary’s Supertrio with singer Kati Bontovics, the György Szabados-Jiri Stivin Duo, Toto Blanke's Electric Circus with Charlie Mariano, and the Soviet Union’s Allegro. The second day was highlighted by the Hungarian debut of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, an eagerly awaited concert which attracted fans from all over the country. Instead of a visual show, the Art Ensemble concentrated almost entirely on the music, which was so good that no one missed the theatrics. The musicians built structures from contemporary sounds, Spanish elements, and “traditional” jazz solos with a steady rhythm.

(Jazz Forum, 1984/4)