Western Recording Studios; Los Angeles, California: February 9, 1968
Gabor Szabo, Jim (Jimmy) Stewart (g); Hal Gordon (per); Jim Keltner (d); Louis Kabok (b).
A beautiful CD which manages to burn with intensity and smolder with a quiet glow. Szabo mixes his familiar style with a subtle use of feedback on a well-programmed group of originals and pop covers, traversing a range of styles from jazz to rock and Latin to raga. This is perhaps the best record of Szabos superior 1960s quintet, featuring classically-trained guitarist Jimmy Stewart.
"Three King Fishers" and "Love is Blue" were used to score the film SURVIVAL IN THE SEA, a 29-minute documentary directed by Richard Wormser for Life Nature Library. The 16-mm film, part of the World We Live In Series, studies the struggle for survival among sea creatures and explains some of the reasons why fish have adapted through natural selection.
BLINDFOLD TEST: Szabo's performance of "Theme From 'Valley Of The Dolls'" heard here was played by Leonard Feather in a Blindfold Test featured in the March 20, 1969, issue of Down Beat for vibist Tommy Vig, a fellow Hungarian born in Budapest two years after Szabo who also fled to the United States following the 1956 uprising. The candidly outspoken Vig says of the performance, "(a) pseudo-classical guitar opening, with electronic manipulation...later a rhumba beat was added. Perhaps it's a rock tune; I can recognize them sometimes by the total lack of logic, while Western scales and harmonies are abused. Most of them, including the Beatles tunes, can be compared to the painting of that monkey who is given paint and just splashes it on the canvas. Since the monkey is using regular paint, they consider it a painting. This can be considered music, I guess, because it uses musical instruments, and abuses them. No musical value. Pity so many jazzmen become like stupefied; they listen to these torturous melodies and progressions that are like abusing bad tunes that were written in the early 1900s - take them and put little melodies there - it's just atrocious. I hope I will never lose my sanity and do things like this."