GABOR SZABO — Macho (review)

GABOR SZABO — Macho album cover Album · 1975 · Funk Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
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
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