Thursday, September 6, 2012

Szilard Mezei Szabad Quintet, Singing Elephant

There are artists active today whose music unfolds before our eyes, whose every new release shows development and growth. Szilard Mezei, violist, composer and bandleader, is such an artist.

His latest focuses on his Szabad Quintet and is entitled Singing Elephant (Not Two 893-2). It's Szilard along with Peter Bede on tenor, Adam Meggyes on trumpet, Erno Hock on double bass, and Hunor G. Szabo, drums. It's a generous set of six Mezei compositions, played with concentrated verve by the quintet.

This is avant jazz to be sure, new-thing-like in the often freely articulated compositional renderings and in the collective/individual solos. Yet it has the distinctive mark of the Mezei approach. It is original. And it is a very good listen.

Each member of the quintet brings something to the music, Mezei's sometimes dark, sometimes astringent viola, Bede's full-bodied, full-ranged tenor, Meggyes' puckish horn work, Hock's expressively noteful bass foundations, and Szabo's intelligently free drumming. This is a band with a sound. And that is typical of Szilard's approach--he chooses players who work well as a sound-unit as much as they solo with individuality. And Szilard's arrangements pit various combinations of players together in contrasting and variable ways. The band manages to evoke some of the classical free jazz outfits of the '60s (NY Contemporary Five, for example) while forging ahead with where we are right now. Needless to say that makes for music I like to hear.

This is some very fine music. It's avant jazz with brains and edge. And it showcases Szilard Mezei's ever evolving approach. Very much recommended.

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