BACCHANAL & 1969
Recorded: 1968-1969. Issued: August 30, 2004.
The CD's cover reproduces the profile shot of the guitarist from the GABOR SZABO 1969 album cover with wavy, psychedelic graphics and the cheeky subtitle "Two albums of exquisite sixties jazz psychedelia from the 'The Nureyev of the Guitar'."
Taken together, these albums really do represent Szabo's trippier music, at least viewed with the affectionate hindsight that retro-camp affords some three decades later.
The label issuing this CD, El (one of the great British reissue label Cherry Red's many affiliates), whipped up a nice little publicity statement to promote the disc (which follows). Readers of this Web site will understand my regard:
Featuring two whole albums of exquisite sixties jazz psychedelia from "The Nureyev Of The Guitar", Gabor Szabo was one of the most original guitarists to emerge in the sixties; crafting a distinctive sound that fused jazz, pop, gypsy, Indian and middle-eastern music-often involving long melodic passages punctuated by feedback and drone-to create a highly mystical and unique style.
Escaping Hungary on the eve of the 1956 communist uprising, Szabo and family eventually settled in California. Teaming up with Chico Hamilton in Los Angeles, Gabor began an important four-year tenure in the drummerıs pioneering jazz quintet during which the band recorded a number of landmark albums and in 1965 contributed brilliantly effective music to Roman Polanskiıs dark psychological masterpiece ‘Repulsionı
By 1968 and living in Hollywood with Elizabeth Taylor and Katherine Hepburn as neighbours, Szabo formed the eclectic skye records with vibists Gary McFarland and Cal Tjader, embarking on two solo albums that would cement his classy reputation.
With “Bacchanal” Gabor triumphed in his experiments with feedback and eastern-tinged psychedelic re-workings of contemporary tunes, the album enjoys many high points opening with an intense, ethereal “three king fishers” and including a particularly lovely reading of Lee Hazelwood’s “Some Velvet Morning”
On “1969”, the guitarist performs melodic hits of the day with elegance in a program featuring Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”, The Beatlesı “Dear Prudence” and a gorgeous interpretation of classic IV’s “Stormy”. At the turn of the decade, Carlos Santana (a friend who gained much inspiration from Gabor’s work) recorded a Szabo composition “Gypsy Queen” for his hit album “Abraxas”
Over the ensuing years Gabor would make albums with Lena Horne and Bobby Womack and sue the church of scientology for $21 million dollars for kidnapping, embezzlement and inept artist representation. Suffering liver and kidney problems, Gabor Szabo passed away in 1982 at just 45 years of age.