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MAGICAL CONNECTION
Gabor Szabo
Los Angeles, California: May 27, 1970
Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Jim Keltner (d); Lynn Blessing (vib); Emil Richards, Hal Gordon (perc).
overdubbed in Los Angeles, California: June 23, 1970
Emil Richards (perc).

a. Sombrero Sam (Charles Lloyd) - 5:14

Los Angeles, California: May 27, 1970
Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Jim Keltner (d); Lynn Blessing (vib); Emil Richards, Hal Gordon (perc).

b. Come Together (John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

Los Angeles, California: June 3, 1970
Richard Thompson (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Jim Keltner (d); Hal Gordon (perc).

c. Hungarian Rhapsody (Franz Liszt)
d. Feelin' Alright (Dave Mason)
e. Hum A Song (Richard Ross) - 3:32

Los Angeles, California: June 5, 1970
Richard Thompson (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Jim Keltner (d); Hal Gordon, Emil Richards (perc).
overdubbed in Los Angeles, California: June 23, 1970
Emil Richards (perc).

f. Magical Connection (John Sebastian) - 4:26

Los Angeles, California: June 5, 1970
Richard Thompson (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Jim Keltner (d); Hal Gordon, Emil Richards (perc).

g. Lady With Child  
     (Chuck Blore/J. Wright/D. Richman) - 3:45

Los Angeles, California: June 10, 1970
Richard Thompson (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Jim Keltner (d); Hal Gordon (perc).
overdubbed in Los Angeles, California: June 23, 1970
Emil Richards (perc).

h. Down On The Corner (John Fogerty)

Los Angeles, California: June 10, 1970
Richard Thompson (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Jim Keltner (d); Hal Gordon (perc).
overdubbed in Hollywood, California: July 8, 1970
Erno Neufeld (concertmaster); George Kast, Marilyn Baker, Jack Gootkin, Henry Ferber, Ambrose Russo, Leonard Malarsky, Jerome Reisler (vln); Allan Harshman, Myron Sandler (viola); Anne Goodman, Frederick Seykora (cello); Jules Chaikin (contractor); Nick DeCaro (arr, cond).

i. Country Illusion (Wolfgang Melz) - 3:45 

Los Angeles, California: June 12, 1970
Richard Thompson (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Jim Keltner (d); Lynn Blessing (vib); Hal Gordon (perc).
overdubbed in Los Angeles, California: June 23, 1970
Emil Richards (perc).

j. Feelin' Alright (Dave Mason)

Los Angeles, California: June 13, 1970
Richard Thompson (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Jim Keltner (d); Lynn Blessing (vib); Hal Gordon (perc).

k. Pretty Girl Why (Stephen Stills) - 3:31

Los Angeles, California: June 15, 1970
Richard Thompson (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Jim Keltner (d); Lynn Blessing (vib); Hal Gordon (perc).
overdubbed in Hollywood, California: July 8, 1970
Erno Neufeld (concertmaster); George Kast, Marilyn Baker, Jack Gootkin, Henry Ferber, Ambrose Russo, Leonard Malarsky, Jerome Reisler (vln); Allan Harshman, Myron Sandler (viola); Anne Goodman, Frederick Seykora (cello); Jules Chaikin (contractor); Nick DeCaro (key, arr, cond).

l. (They Long To Be) Close to You  

Los Angeles, California: June 26, 1970
Richard Thompson (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Jim Keltner (d); Lynn Blessing (vib); Hal Gordon (perc).

m. The Rambler (Wolfgang Melz)

Los Angeles, California: June 27, 1970
Richard Thompson (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Jim Keltner (d); Hal Gordon (perc).

n. Pretty Girl Why (Stephen Stills) - 3:31

Los Angeles, California: June 27, 1970
Richard Thompson (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Jim Keltner (d); Hal Gordon (perc).
overdubbed in Hollywood, California: July 8, 1970

Erno Neufeld (concertmaster); George Kast, Marilyn Baker, Jack Gootkin, Henry Ferber, Ambrose Russo, Leonard Malarsky, Jerome Reisler (vln); Allan Harshman, Myron Sandler (viola); Anne Goodman, Frederick Seykora (cello); Jules Chaikin (contractor); Nick DeCaro (arr, cond).

o. Love Theme from Spartacus (Alex North) - 3:13

same or similar 
overdubbed in Hollywood, California: July 8, 1970
Erno Neufeld (concertmaster); George Kast, Marilyn Baker, Jack Gootkin, Henry Ferber, Ambrose Russo, Leonard Malarsky, Jerome Reisler (vln); Allan Harshman, Myron Sandler (viola); Anne Goodman, Frederick Seykora (cello); Jules Chaikin (contractor); Nick DeCaro (arr, cond).

p. Fred and Betty (Gabor Szabo/
     Richard Thompson) - 4:53 

Note: Blue Thumb BTS-23, Blue Thumb BTS-8823 also indicates the participation of percussionists Sandra Crouch and Felix "Flaco" Flacon.

Issues: a, e, f, g, i, l, m, n, o & p on Blue Thumb BTS-23, Blue Thumb BTS-8823.
Singles: l & o also on Blue Thumb 7118 [45]. 
Samplers: l also on MCA (Jap) MVCE-22004 [CD] titled WHIP HIP BACHARACH - BURT BACHARACH COVER COLLECTION. o also on MCA 29065 titled MEMORABILIA (1982) and Varese Sarabande VCL 0610 1109 [CD] titled SPARTACUS.
Producer: Tommy LiPuma
Engineer: Richard Moore, Bruce Botnick
Notes: N/A


After nearly eight months of inactivity, Szabo put together a group of Los Angeles area musicians to record a new album for a newly conceived label. The Woodstock concert event of the previous summer was already a part of the history that recognized cultural turning points. And significantly, the musicians Szabo assembled here were as capable of solid jazz support as they were familiar and comfortable with the differing challenges that rock proposed.

Classically trained pianist Richard Thompson had already toured extensively with the Beach Boys. Both he and Fender Bass prodigy/avatar Wolfgang Melz (b. 1938) were also concurrently members of the successful pop group, the Association; though Melz was only briefly a part of the group. Vibraphonist Lynn Blessing (1938-94), a Paul Horn protégé, had recently released his own album of rock-influenced jazz, SUNSET PAINTER (Epic 26488), which also featured Melz. All three were also recent contributors to John Klemmer's bands -- Thompson and Melz on 1969's ALL THE CHILDREN CRIED (Cadet LPS326) and Melz and Blessing (as well as drummer John Dentz, a frequent Szabo associate) on 1970's ERUPTIONS (Cadet LPS330). Even the arsenal of percussionists here were making strong individual reputations for an ability to float easily from jazz to rock studio situations.

The musicianship is in fact what gives MAGICAL CONNECTION its substance. Significantly, these musicians had worked together in various combinations over the years in the studios and in performance. Their familiarity with each other and their sensitivity to the collective is what prevails here; taking precedent over individual talents, song choices, production, even Szabo's playing. Szabo's ability to build a mellifluent, cohesive soundscape in which to fit himself is unusually successful here. Only rarely throughout his recorded solo career would he sound this compatible with his support; with Jimmy Stewart before and Bob James later. Despite the potential overload of chordal reining by the keyboards and vibraphone, Szabo finds an empathic foundation -- driven significantly by the bassist's guitar-like refusal to allow the bass to be merely a thumping source of timekeeping.

MAGICAL CONNECTION, like GABOR SZABO 1969 and LENA & GABOR, is built upon a menu of mostly easy-listening pop material. Overall, it is a pleasant concoction of jazz ideology brought to bear on catchy, hummable melodies. Szabo's performance of "Hum a Song," Scottish pop singer Lulu's 1970 top-forty hit, is significantly one of the more memorable occasions on this album; allowing for some of the guitarist's most truly unfettered playing. His guitar break, scored to the percussionist's timekeeping, underscores the beautiful simplicity Szabo strives for throughout. Another highlight is the swinging vitality of Charles Lloyd's "Sombrero Sam," a song Lloyd made famous with the quartet he formed after Szabo's departure. It's catchy, but it has a verve that allows the improvisational expressions of which these players, Richard Thompson in particular, are capable. As a result, "Sombrero Sam" offers the album's strongest suggestions of the group's magical connection.

The album's title actually derives from John Sebastian's moody, trippy paean to mutual attraction. The song first appeared on Sebastian's charming 1970 debut solo album, JOHN B. SEBASTIAN (MGM SE-4654) which, like Szabo's album, features the engineering talents of Bruce Botnick. Szabo adds to the song his beautiful gypsy touches to evoke the unknowable mysteries of the affection Sebastian ponders. There is here, as elsewhere, a subtlety among the players; a determination to let their leader lead and an allowance to follow along through the mystery of his direction. Unfortunately, though, Szabo chooses to let the song wind down as a ballad vamp instead of continuing to explore the evocative mood he establishes early on.

"Country Illusion" is, according to composer Wolfgang Melz, "the first time [Gabor Szabo] recorded one of my tunes." It is one of the handy little riffs Melz was so adroit at inventing and actually only one of the bassist's's tunes which had already entered Szabo's band book. Wolfie comments that his writing "was totally contrary to the way I played." The songs Melz penned generated the anxious restlessness of his accompaniment; yet, his compositions -- similar to Szabo's in the sense that they were little more than formalized riffs -- often found a sadder, more longing side to his personality.

Melz, a German refugee who actually taught himself to play banjo as a boy, was a gifted musician who shared with Szabo a unique gift for musical spontaneity and the ability to create musical significance on the spot. Like Jimmy Stewart before him, Melz fit very beautifully in Szabo's musical universe. Although the two often said very little to each other, they expressed themselves in performance conversations of lively musical counterpoint with mutual appreciation and understanding. "In a strange way we went through the same kind of dilemma," Melz says; "coming out of Communist situations. I was born in East Germany and he was one of those refugees that made it across in 1956. We were about the same age so we related a lot. A lot of people didn't understand what was going on at that time with dictatorships. It's like we both understood each other. I never told him what to do. He never told me what to do. We just knew."

Pianist Richard Thompson was also offered the chance to explore his musical ideas on MAGICAL CONNECTION with "Fred & Betty." "I wrote that tune, or at least the basic structure of it," Thompson says of the audibly two-part invention. "In the chorus part of it there were chord changes I stumbled across. I wanted to extend on that and turn it into a tune. Gabor came up with a little vamp which became the 'A' part. " Explaining the song's strange progression from funky riff to formalized ballad, Thompson goes on to say that Szabo "also came up with a part I never really agreed with; which was going into the 3/4 time in the chorus. The way I had conceived it, we just drove through that in the 4/4 tempo." The song, surely the sum of it's odd parts, doesn't really work as a result. But it's had it's rewards. "Oddly enough," Thompson jokes, "every once in a while I get a check for 82 cents or $1.09 or something from some Canadian public television station that apparently used it as a theme or something." Incidentally, there really is no Fred and Betty. The title was based on Szabo's notion of two people who live in a trailer park by the sea.

Finally, it's worth noting the smug sleeve design of the MAGICAL CONNECTION album. Designed by a firm suitably named Camouflage Productions (designers Feinstein and Wilkes), the cover sports lush green forest foliage, revealed to be a canvas prop on a stage that does no more than support a broom. The sleeve doesn't even bear Szabo's name or the album's title (though original copies of the album featured an adhesive sticker with the appropriate information). The graphics, suggesting a musical artificiality within, signaled Blue Thumb's hell-bent desire to establish its outré-hip credentials. Indeed, magazine advertising for the label at this time featured a baffling two-page story of a dwarfish hippie's search for the meaning of life as he encounters four Blue Thumb releases, including this one, and his discovery that "nothing is sacred any more."

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