GABOR SZABO

Exotica / RnB / Fusion / Soul Jazz / Funk Jazz • Hungary
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Gábor Szabó (8 March 1936 – 26 February 1982) was a Hungarian jazz guitarist, famous for mixing jazz, pop-rock and his native Hungarian music.

Szabó was born in Budapest and began playing guitar at the age of 14, inspired by jazz music on the Voice of America broadcasts. He escaped Hungary and moved to the United States in 1956, a year of attempted revolt against Soviet-dominated Communist rule, and attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston. In 1958, he was invited to perform at the Newport Jazz Festival. Szabó performed with the Chico Hamilton quintet from 1961 to 1965. In the late 1960s he co-founded the short-lived Skye record label along with Cal Tjader and Gary McFarland. On the Skye label, Szabo recorded his album with Lena Horne in October and November 1969. Szabo had been part of Horne's backup band when she performed at The Nugget in Nevada in November
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GABOR SZABO Discography

GABOR SZABO albums / top albums

GABOR SZABO Gypsy '66 album cover 4.33 | 3 ratings
Gypsy '66
Exotica 1965
GABOR SZABO Jazz Raga album cover 3.96 | 3 ratings
Jazz Raga
Exotica 1966
GABOR SZABO Spellbinder album cover 4.50 | 3 ratings
Spellbinder
Exotica 1966
GABOR SZABO Wind, Sky And Diamonds album cover 2.75 | 2 ratings
Wind, Sky And Diamonds
Soul Jazz 1967
GABOR SZABO Bacchanal album cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
Bacchanal
Exotica 1968
GABOR SZABO Dreams album cover 3.88 | 4 ratings
Dreams
Exotica 1968
GABOR SZABO 1969 album cover 2.48 | 5 ratings
1969
Exotica 1969
GABOR SZABO High Contrast album cover 4.18 | 5 ratings
High Contrast
RnB 1971
GABOR SZABO Small World album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Small World
Exotica 1972
GABOR SZABO Magical Connection album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Magical Connection
Exotica 1972
GABOR SZABO Mizrab album cover 4.42 | 5 ratings
Mizrab
Exotica 1973
GABOR SZABO Rambler album cover 3.05 | 3 ratings
Rambler
RnB 1974
GABOR SZABO Macho album cover 4.46 | 5 ratings
Macho
Funk Jazz 1975
GABOR SZABO Nightflight album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Nightflight
Exotica 1976
GABOR SZABO Faces album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Faces
RnB 1977
GABOR SZABO Belsta River album cover 4.50 | 2 ratings
Belsta River
Exotica 1979
GABOR SZABO Femme Fatale album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Femme Fatale
Exotica 1981

GABOR SZABO EPs & splits

GABOR SZABO live albums

GABOR SZABO The Sorcerer album cover 3.71 | 3 ratings
The Sorcerer
Fusion 1967
GABOR SZABO More Sorcery album cover 4.50 | 2 ratings
More Sorcery
Exotica 1967
GABOR SZABO Live album cover 4.25 | 2 ratings
Live
Exotica 1974
GABOR SZABO In Budapest album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
In Budapest
Exotica 2008
GABOR SZABO In Budapest Again album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
In Budapest Again
Fusion 2018

GABOR SZABO demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

GABOR SZABO re-issues & compilations

GABOR SZABO The Szabo Equation: Jazz/Myticism/Exotica album cover 3.50 | 2 ratings
The Szabo Equation: Jazz/Myticism/Exotica
Exotica 1990
GABOR SZABO In Stockholm album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
In Stockholm
Exotica 2001
GABOR SZABO The Sorcerer & More Sorcery album cover 4.50 | 2 ratings
The Sorcerer & More Sorcery
Exotica 2011

GABOR SZABO singles (0)

GABOR SZABO movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

GABOR SZABO Reviews

GABOR SZABO The Sorcerer

Live album · 1967 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
Another classic Szabo album for the legendary Impulse! label, The Sorcerer was recorded over two nights in the spring of 77 at the Boston Jazz Workshop with his then-group. Including fellow Hungarian-exiled bassist Louis Kabok, the band also featured drummer Morrell, percussionist Hal Gordon and surprisingly another guitarist/banjoist Jimmy Stewart. The general feel is a light upbeat guitar-oriented jazz with some hints of rock and Latin influences here and there, but some Indian-raga as well, but except for two tracks, I wouldn’t call the album Indo-jazz fusion per se. BTW, the Cole Porter cover of Thing Called Love is nothing exciting (IMHO)

While some tracks are gently Jazzy with Latin rhythms, like the opening Bono-penned Beat Goes On or the bossa-nova Little Boat, the album is relatively eclectic with a guitar and congas workout of the semi-successful Lou-ise; and over the flipside, the electric guitar feedback of the intro of the almost-7-mins Space also give a slight dreamy-psych raga that can only enthral rock fans. The calmer Stronger Than Us is a bit of an anti-climax with its all-too gentle harmonies, but the 7-mins Mizrab (named after the percussionist who’d played with Gabor in previous albums) is returning to the hypnotizing and demented raga that brings it close to rock soundscapes.

Interesting mainly for the flipside (IMHO, anyway), Sorcerer is another late-60’s album that showed another side to the Impulse! label, one that many might be less familiar with, since the Coltrane galaxy tended to over-shadow the rest. Despite the relatively uninteresting first side; the B-side is a pretty good companion to his previous album Jazz Raga.

GABOR SZABO 1969

Album · 1969 · Exotica
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Sean Trane
Having left the Impulse! label, Szabo signed for the more obscure Blue Thumb label to release a fairly uninteresting string of albums, including the present 1969, which you guessed it, was released that very same year. Despite the exuberant turning of the decade era, Gabor seemed to miss out on the power and demented freedom of the times. Despite a promising almost-Folon inner sleeve artwork, it seems that the west-coast soft-jazz spirit had overwhelmed him, and musicians like bassist Kabok and drummer Keltner seemed to dominate the potential power of the organ, played by Melvoin.

Yes, we’re definitely in a west-coast jazz, not too far from what the CTI label would make its bread and bitter in the following years. Little wonder that Gabor would also release albums for that label a few years later. But for the present, we’re dealing with low-energy jazz-pop, sometimes reminiscent of rearranged Beatles tunes (doh!!!) that would fit supermarket or elevator background music. The only time the album comes alive, is in the album-closing raga-esque and aptly-titled Somewhere I Belong. Indeed Gabor, too bad it took you a whole album to return to your natural grounds. A real snoozefest and IMHO, best avoided, though its main merit is that it won’t irritate more your eardrums than your discernment.

GABOR SZABO Macho

Album · 1975 · Funk Jazz
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Sean Trane
As far as I am concerned, this is Gabor’s quintessential 70’s album, one where he shines like a thousand sun in company of his CTI label-mates and usual suspects. Alongside the ever-present Bob James and Ralph McDonald, we also find Eric Gale (on rhythm rather than lead), Harvey Mason and ex-Zappa-man Ian Underwood. Apart from its dumb name and uninteresting artwork, Macho is one of the best CTI album released (Sept 75) and features some of best soft/Latin fusion music ever recorded. It is with this album that you’ll realize that Carlos and Gabor were indeed good buddies and certainly listened to each other’s works..

Opening on grandiose trumpet intro, than a funky bass, Hungarian Rhapsody (a Liszt composition) sounds more like a Spanish/Flamenco piece, and Bob James’s outstanding gentle synth layers provide all the dramatic background to allow the soloists to soar like an eagle over the track. If it wasn’t for a touch of kitschy solo synth, shivers down the spine would be the 7-mins main-course menu. The following Time is more reflective, but takes on a calm Latin soft groove, with some subtle power outbursts. The side-closing Transylvanian Boogie is no more Hungarian-sounding than the album opener, but it’s definitely more of funky boogie and a Latin scorcher. Scott’s sax solo reigns supreme, but leaves both Eric and Gabor plenty of space to shine as well.

On the flipside, the fleshy Ziggidy Zag meanders all along its 6-mins funky groove, and the Rhodes takes centre stage for much of the tune. The album’s highlight is clearly the album-long (9-mins+) title track, which simmers and fries in the sun like it belonged on Santana’s Caravanserai album. Yesssss… THAT good!!!!! Tension-filled greatness, where McDo’s excellent congas-pounding interplays with Mason’s drumming in the middle section duet, before Edwards’ booming bass intervenes. Flabbergasting, really!!! In contrast, it’s a little too bad that the original album closes on the quiet (almost subdued) but poetic Poetry Man, thus merely failing to entice the listener to place the stylus back onto the wax’s outer edge, like a perfect album would.

But what’s even better nowadays is that the present album’s latest reissue is graced by two of the best bonus tracks around, one real track and very well in line with the musical direction of the album. So, you get 17 minutes extra of the same great album. The splendid Evening In The Country could also emanate from one of Santana’s best album (Caravanserai or Borboletta) and it is with absolute mastery that it gives an outstanding continuation to the original album. The longer alternate take version of Macho is one fantastic manner to indeed end the debate. IMHO, if you must own only one CTI album, Macho would probably edge out slightly Deodato’s debut

GABOR SZABO Jazz Raga

Album · 1966 · Exotica
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Sean Trane
It was inevitable that such a wide-ranging and far-reaching artiste like Szabo would eventually record for that awesome Impulse! label and Jazz Raga fits somewhat in with the world tendencies of the label. Indeed, JR is one of the best examples of Indo-jazz fusion alongside the London-scene stalwarts Amancio D’Silva and John Mayer. Out of the 11 tracks, five are recorded in a trio format, and the rest are in an expanded quintet with a second guitarist (to free up Gabor on sitar) and a tabla player. For the most part, the quintet tracks are concentrated on the A-side, while the trio tracks are the majority of the flipside.

All but three tracks were Szabo compositions, but it’s rather clear that the three covers would pull a lot of attention. Indeed, past an anecdotic (despite the quintet) Paint It Black, Duke’s Caravan and Gerschwin’s Summertime, the former receiving stupendous (then-) modern trio arrangements, the latter being more surprising with its sitar intervention. OK, now that we got that out of the way, let’s look at the meat of the album.

The opening Walking On Nails reflects a gentle-almost Beatles-like melody over a psychey sitar & drums and filtered vocals. Mizrab (named after the tabla player’s Indian moniker) is much more credible in terms of Indo-jazz fusion, precisely because of the tabla percussions. The Nirvana piece is an amazing upbeat guitar and sitar piece that will drive you bonkers, while Krishna will give you a happy serenity. After the delicate Raga Doll, Coming Back has a quasi rockabilly feel, which announces that Rolling Stones cover. Even wilder and more energetic, Sophisticated Wheels oozes more of a raga rock than a raga jazz.

Definitely one of Gabor’s best album in the 60’s and a milestone in the Indo-jazz fusion genre, Jazz Raga is not a typical Impulse! label product, and yet it’s a minor classic, even though its rock aura already announces the jazz-rock that will overtake the jazz world by the turn of the decade.

GABOR SZABO High Contrast

Album · 1971 · RnB
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Sean Trane
As far as I know, this is Szabo’s first incursion in jazz-rock/fusion territory and it was a fairly successful one, partly because he has some high-profile friend, such as Bobby Womack on rhythm guitar, Jim Keltner on drums and Falco on percussions. Don’t get me wrong: despite its 71 release date, High Contrast is definitely not a fiery energy-filled lava-hot jazz rock album. Nope, we’re more in the CTI-label brand of 70’s light-fusion that would eventually veer into the 80’s soft-jazz.

Don’t be discouraged by the opening aptly-titled Breezin’, which present a gentle soft-Latin-jazz with over-mixed string arrangements, as it’s indeed a light summer breeze that won’t ruffle your feathers, but will not awake you either. Of much greater interest is the steamy Amazon piece, which has a slight Santana reminiscence, if you overlook Carlos’ inimitable guitar sound’s absence. The 7-mins+ Fingers instrumental piece (like the whole album) takes the debate a few steps higher while retaining the steamy Santana feel, with Falco’s excellent conga work and Levine’s dynamic piano to rise the energies sky-high. Bu (high) contrast, the soft string-overloaded Azure Blue can simply not compete and appears rather tedious, even though Szabo’s guitar is flawless.

On the flipside, the 7-mins+ Communication opens fire right from the first Latin flavoured notes reaching your eardrums and the Latin feast continues with the gentler If You Don’t Want. The closing almost-8mins I Remember When remains in the mid-tempo Latin genre, but tones down the energy, while retaining the quality of the previous tracks, if it wasn’t for the overly-present string arrangements at the end. Considering his previous works for Impulse and Indo-Jazz Fusion, HC is a surprising but pleasant change of direction, and hints at what his future albums will sound like in years to come, to culminate with 76’s Macho release.

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