1995 VHS Release
Gabor Szabo Quintet et. al.
"Club Date" TV Show; KPBS; San Diego, California: April 23, 1977
Bobby Lyle (key), Gabor Szabo (g), Marlon McClain (el-g); Nathaniel Phillips (b); Bruce Carter (d).
Gabor Szabo (g).
Bobby Lyle (key), Gabor Szabo (g), Marlon McClain (el-g); Nathaniel Phillips (b); Bruce Carter (d).
Carlos Santana, in association with Guitar Player magazine, here presents tributes to three guitarists he considers influential musical mentors -- Bola Sete, Gabor Szabo and Wes Montgomery. The 60-minute video production features Mr. Santana's thoughts and insights on the uniqueness of the three jazz guitarists, and through rare performance footage, demonstrates the impact of their inspiration on his own music. In addition to showing viewers what he's learned from each of these masters in his own playing, Mr. Santana performs two of his own songs (with Chester Thompson on keyboards) to illustrate how a musician strives to utilize influences in seeking an individual musical personality.
Santana is a thoughtful, passionate and, at times, eloquent narrator during much of this 1995 videotape production. But given the number of times he credits B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix as important influences, it's surprising Santana sticks to only jazz-oriented guitarists here. During much of the 20 minutes or so he devotes to Gabor Szabo, Santana wears a t-shirt featuring Gabor Szabo, especially designed and produced for Santana by Michael Rios. The 1977 Szabo performance footage featured here is supplied by Szabo's son, Blaise. It was filmed for the long-running San Diego TV program, Club Date, and catches an impassioned Szabo (with fairly bland support) offering a pretty rendition of "Breezin" and a beautiful solo reading of "Concerto de Aranjuez."
The following is a transcript of Carlos Santana's commentary during the Gabor Szabo segment of this videotape presentation (in between commentary about Bola Sete and Wes Montgomery, neither of which is provided here):
"You also hear fantastic, spellbinding music by Gabor Szabo." [clip of Szabo performing "Breezin" is shown].
"The first time I heard Gabor Szabo was at a friend's house, Jimmy Martinez. He started giggling; like he-he-he-he. I said what are you giggling about, man? Man, I got something to show you. You know, it's gonna crack you up. It was Gabor Szabo [still of Gabor Szabo shown]. There was no piano, no keyboards; just congas, guitar and Ron Carter [sic -- Al Stinson]. It was Chico Hamilton's "Conquistadores." It went...[Santana plays single-line bass pattern on acoustic guitar as Al Stinson played on the original]. Then you hear the congas, the cowbell and then by the time he set it out, like a mantra, he comes in and goes...[Santana plays the introductory chordal vamp Szabo played on the original].
"Discovering Gabor Szabo in 1966, it was a time of turmoil and also a time of the Beatles coming out of their cutesy, lollipop, teenybopper stuff. They were going more toward Bob Dylan; more 'deep' in other words. And so I guess the Beatles were a good medium to help me get from B.B. [King] to Gabor because, as I said before, with the 'And I Love Here' kind of thing, the Beatles were already crossing through the guru thing and so they were starting to interject into their music a deeper thought kind of pop.
"Then you see Gabor Szabo playing 'The Beat Goes On.' You see Gabor Szabo playing 'White Rabbit.' So it was all merging; without becoming confusion or fusion. It was merging naturally. The Matador club here on Broadway Street in San Francisco [still of Gabor Szabo shown], this is where Gabor Szabo would play and he'd play something like this at the Matador." [Santana begins to play the Flamenco introduction to 'Nightflight' on acoustic guitar -- which fades into Gabor Szabo's performance of the song].
"His approach is more basic than Hendrix. Hendrix's feedback started, apparently according to Noel Redding, by he was playing the blues really cool, whatever he was playing, and some bikers got really excited in Germany and they rushed the stage. Jimi got paranoid. He thought he'd take his guitar away from him. The guitar, it was full blast, he threw it like that behind him [Santana mimics Hendrix tossing his guitar over his shoulder] and when it landed it started screaming like an Aurora Borealis. That's the only way to describe it. You've seen an Aurora Borealis, right? Northern Lights? Like that. And then so Jimi looked at the guitar and then there was Monterey.
"Gabor Szabo's feedback is not as untamed. It's more tame because it's not dealing with the psychedelic, acid, mescaline configuration yet. He was more into the feedback like a drone [Santana plays a few notes on acoustic guitar and de-tunes them, to mimic a drone effect] because he listened to Indian music. So he used feedback as a drone instead of like a blackboard to paint colors on. You know, that's the only way I can describe to you the individual approach to feedback." [still of GYPSY 66 album cover shown].
"Gabor was very focused on Gabor. I know that he stayed over at my house and we hung out, but I could tell by his demeanor that he would listen to other things; but not as much as he'd listen to his own stuff. In other words, he was very, not self-centered, but he was into himself. He'd only take from other people just a little bit -- enough of what he needed." [brief clip of Szabo performing "Magical Connection" from JAZZPÓDIUM 74: SZABÓ GÁBOR (USA) MÜSORA with János Másik (el-p), Aladár Pege (el-b), Imre Köszegi (d) and István Dely (perc)].
"But with him, he could just grab 'Bang Bang,' Sonny & Cher, 'My Foolish Heart' or 'Autumn Leaves' and just immediately make it sound like it's the first time you ever heard that song. It takes a very strong soul personality, not so much like an ego personality, but a soul personality to be able to put your fingerprints on somebody else's song. You know, Miles Davis, 'My Funny Valentine.' Aretha Franklin said 'I am Eleanor Rigby and I pick up the rice.' And when she started singing it, you say, 'She's Eleanor Rigby; the Beatles wrote the song about her.' Aretha took 'Respect' away from Otis Redding. You know it's really hard once Barbra Streisand, or somebody, puts their mark on something, its theirs, you know. So it takes a musician to come all the other way and do something with it. And he would play 'People,' all kinds of other songs and immediately put his mark on it.
"You have to go home and turn off the TV, unplug the phone, unplug everything and plug in yourself and disconnect yourself. Pull the song apart, put it back together. By the time you put it together again, people want to say, 'Man, I heard that song many, many times but I never heard it that way.' 'Oh, because we took the time.' Individuality and uniqueness is very, very welcome. It's a drag when you say, 'Who's that? It sounds like...' No. You say, 'well, that's Wes' or 'That's Jimi' or 'That's John Lee [?].' It's more welcome like that. It's important that people discover their own fingerprints.
"Gabor Szabo, when I saw him, every time he would turn into like a rolley-polley kind of thing. He'd just go like that [Santana crouches over his guitar as he sits]. You know, Bill Graham used to call Eric Clapton one of the tightest dancers, 'close dancers.' He'd say, 'Eric Clapton dances really close.' You know, Gabor was the same way. They'd get into this kind of thing. Even though they're standing up; I don't know how they do it; kind of like that [Santana crouches over his guitar while standing]. And the next thing you knew, they're in another world and you're in another world." [Szabo performs part of 'Concerto de Aranjuez.' Santana then watches Szabo on a monitor perform the song and plays an unamplified electric guitar along with Szabo].
"There's something really beautiful about that song because it teaches you to pray and to cuss at the same time; [Santana plays a part of the song again] like, 'Get your de-de-de face out...' Almost like that. It's almost like when you see a woman put her hand on her hip and starts to do the cobra thing. You know you're in trouble. And certain licks do the same thing. They're very expressive." [still of Gabor Szabo shown].
"I love [Gabor Szabo] because he pulled me out of B.B. [King]. You know B.B. had me like this [Santana performs a mock head lock] in a head lock, you know. I wasn't the only one. He had a whole bunch of us like that, you know. Like I said before, he had Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, just about everybody, Michael Bloomfield, Peter Green. We all wanted to be B.B. King when we grew up. And as soon as we grew up, then we discovered everybody else; Gabor Szabo and Wes. Some of us guys the people just discovered their own. Me, I'm still discovering myself and things that I love in Wes or Gabor.
"But Gabor's the first one who got me out of B.B., before Bola Sete or Wes Montgomery. In fact, Gabor was the freeway exit out from B.B. King Freeway. He was the exit for me, because, as I said before, B.B. really had me in a spell. And when I heard Gabor, I never knew there were other possibilities to do with the guitar. All of a sudden I could hear what he hears with Miles or what he hears on singers or what he hears with Ravi Shankar. So the guitar became even more fun to play because you weren't constricted to the same licks or the same approach; the same route home. All of a sudden, you have less-is-more.
"It's very difficult to do. You have to take the time to hang out with yourself and first you have the task of picking up B.B., certain things; picking up Gabor, picking up Bola Sete or Wes and then the final thing is to peel yourself like a snake peels itself from all that skin -- Joe Pass, Pat Martino, George Benson. And once you peel yourself, then it sounds like you. So that's why you have to practice late at night or when it's really quiet. You have to practice to shed yourself from everybody that you like. But first you should learn it. First, you should learn this music and then later on, like a snake, you get rid if that old skin and you find your own."
[At the end of the video, Santana concludes] "I want to thank you for checking us out. And when you get a chance, when you're alone at night, play by yourself. And if you get lonely, put on Bola Sete, Gabor Szabo and Wes Montgomery. They'll keep you good company."