Spring Festival


The Budapest Spring Festival, the capital’s main cultural attraction, offered jazz programs this year. A concert by John McLaughlin and Gato Barbieri attracted about 12,000 fans. McLaughlin arrived with a single acoustic guitar, but in the company of bass virtuoso Jonas Hellborg, he captivated the audience with his unique technique and sensitive musicality. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of Mr. Barbieri, whose empty, mechanical repetition of his 1970 Latin-rock style was utterly unconvincing.

Some days later the Music Academy of Budapest was host to another jazz event, one of several programmatic concerts of the general assembly of the International Society for Contemporary Musicians. The evening was intended to show the relations (or lack thereof) between jazz and contemporary music. In the first part, an eight-piece band performed János Gonda's new composition titled Improvisations for Eight Instruments, which in eight movements represented the different contemporary elements in jazz. In the second part, György Szabados played a piano solo and conducted his new composition for strings and reeds, which combined repetitive techniques with (Hungarian) flair and improvisational freedom. Both programs were convincing and well received by the partly foreign audience.

(Jazz Forum, 1986/3)