Spring Thaw


It can’t be said that spring rejuvenated Hungarian jazz, but some important events did occur that, despite economic difficulties, revealed continued signs of jazz life.

This year the Budapest Spring Festival featured four or five concerts in its program, including the Hungarian Jazz Quartet, the János Gonda Group, FRG's Overtone, and, as a highlight, the McCoy Tyner trio at the Erkel Theater, which in the ‘70s used to be the regular concert hall for the great American jazz musicians visiting the country. Although Tyner spent only 70 minutes on stage, his repertoire, based mostly on standards and popular tunes, spotlighted his musical devotion and muscular pianistic approach.

The University of Economics continued its series of avantgarde jazz concerts, including such noted names as the String Trio of New York and Elliott Sharp. The jazz club’s managers plan to take their programs to the countryside, even where international groups are concerned.  There  have been, for example, conversations about a longer tour for Peter Kowald and Peter Brötzmann, with the help of the Goethe Institute.

The Alba Regia International Jazz Festival, held every third year in Székesfehérvár through the sponsorship of Videoton Electronic Co., took place this time in mid-May. The two-day program focused on the local scene, featuring the Budapest Big Band, Things, the Hungarian Jazz Quartet, the Molnár Dixieland Band, Dimension, the Babos Trio Plus, the Super Trio, and as guest soloists, Ted Curson, Jiri Stivin, Severi Pyysalo, and Canadian singer Jean Samion.

At the end of May, the mining town of Salgótarján hosted an international Dixieland festival, featuring bands from Poland, F.R.G., Czechoslovakia, and Hungary.

There is little good news concerning the intentions of Hungaroton, the nation’s only official label. In the first five months of the year, only three jazz recordings were released. One is a blues album by Philadelphia Jerry Ricks, the second is a fusion offering by the Dimension Quartet, and the third is a kind of third-stream, composed music by the Super Trio and the Budapest Brass Ensemble, under the name Creative Art Ensemble.

The most important news for summer was the postponement of the Debrecen Jazz Days to October because of problems with the concert halls.

(Jazz Forum, 1987/4)