Thursday, June 18, 2015

Szilard Mezei, Tul a Tiszan Innen Ensemble

I have been appreciating the music of Serbian new jazz composer-instrumentalist Szilard Mezei for some time now, ever since I came to review one of his albums years ago for Cadence. What I've covered here you can search out via typing his name in the box above. There are some new ones and today I look at an especially good one. It's a two-CD set of Szilard with his larger group, and the album is titled Szilard Mezei Tul a Tiszan Innen Ensemble (WMAS CD 252/253). Szilard plays viola as part of a ten-member tentet, including two violins, flute-alto flute, bass clarinet-alto sax, trombone, piano, marimba-vibraphone. acoustic bass and drums.

The emphasis is on Mezei's compositions with free space and space for solos, all of interest. His music continues to evolve so that we get these days some strikingly contrasting melodic juxtapositions that have a new music-folkish-jazz earthiness, that repeat at times but in longer phrases that mostly have more in common with some of Braxton's works than with minimalism, but always in original ways that take some listening to fully appreciate. The works heard here are based on Hungarian folk themes, but transformed in ways only Szilard can accomplish in how it all lays out for us.

The music is a bit less dark than some of his earlier work, but no less the better for it. He is still definitively himself.

There is so much good music of note on this set that a track-by-track description is unnecessary and could be a bit tedious. Ostinatos form a backbone to the structures at times, but then the thematic arcs constructed on top of these figures give the overall sound an unexpected multi-dimensionality. The sound of the ensemble has a distinctive timbral quality which Mezei brings out front by the special way he divides up the musical material between instruments.

This is definitely one of his best recordings to date. There is much to absorb and both an avantness and a down-to-earth folksiness that make for uncanny listening.

Very highly recommended!

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