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SIMPATICO
Gary McFarland and Gabor Szabo
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: May 18, 1966
Gabor Szabo (g,vcl); Sam Brown (g); Richard Davis (b); Joe Cocuzzo (d); Gary McFarland (vib,vcl); Tommy Lopez, Barry Rodgers (perc).

a. (90561) Norwegian Wood
    
(John Lennon/Paul McCartney) - 2:32
b. ( 90562) Cool Water (Bob Nolan) - 2:31
c. ( 90563) You Will Pay (Gabor Szabo) - 2:45
d. ( 90564) She's A Cruiser
    
(Gary McFarland) - 2:34

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: May 20, 1966
Gabor Szabo (g,vcl); Sam Brown (g); Richard Davis (b); Joe Cocuzzo (d); Gary McFarland (vib,vcl); Tommy Lopez, Barry Rodgers (perc).

e. (90565) Nature Boy (Eden Ahbez) - 2:45
f. ( 90566) Ups and Downs (Gary McFarland) - 2:58
g. ( 90567) The Word
    
(John Lennon/Paul McCartney) - 2:22  
h. ( 90568) Spring Song (Gabor Szabo) - 2:18

same or similar, except Bob Bushnell (b) replaces Richard Davis.

i. ( 90569) Yamaha Mama (Gabor Szabo) - 2:12

same or similar, except Richard Davis (b) replaces Bob Bushnell.

j. ( 90573) Afro Blue (Mongo Santamaria)

same or similar, except Bob Bushnell (b) replaces Richard Davis.

k. (90574) Hey, Here's a Heart (Gary McFarland/Cliff Owens) - 2:36

same or similar, except Gary McFarland (vib, whistle). 

l. ( 90575) Simpático (Gary McFarland) - 4:44 

Issues: a-i & k-l on Impulse A(S) 9122, Impulse (Jap) UCCU-3090 [CD] (issued May 2008). 
Samplers: g also on Family (E)
9821016 [CD] titled THE TRIP CREATED BY TIM LOVE LEE (issued 2004). h & l also on Impulse AS9204-2, MCA Impulse 2-4155 titled GABOR SZABO: HIS GREAT HITS (issued 1971) and El (E) ACMEM148 [CD] titled SKETCH FOR SUMMER. l also on Voices of Vista Show #46A titled VOICES OF VISTA - GARY McFARLAND, Irma (It) 507985-1 and Irma (It) 507985-2 [CD] titled THE MORNING SIDE OF LOVE - A COLLECTION OF CHILL OUT GROOVES FROM THE PAST (issued 2002) and Impulse (Aus) 0600753318980 [CD] titled THE LOOK OF LOVE - A JOURNEY THROUGH THE VAULTS OF IMPULSE: COMPILED BY SAMIR H. KÖCK.
Producer: Gary McFarland and Bob Thiele
Engineer: Rudy Van Gelder
Notes: Nat Hentoff

COVERS: "Spring Song" also performed by Mild Euphoria on LET'S DISSOLVE (2001): Siesta (Sp) 144LP, Siesta (Sp) 144CD [CD].

SAMPLES: "She's A Cruiser" was sampled by Hatchback for "Horizon" from COLORS OF THE SUN (Lo Recordings (E) LCD70 [CD], 2008).


A strange album of breezy pop ephemera that’s just as bewildering as it is beguiling. In the first and last of their collaborations that pit both names at the top of the bill, Gary McFarland and Gabor Szabo make their first bid for an out and out fusion of jazz and pop rock.

The result is not exactly a success and any sign of victory in either genre is likely to put off fans of the other genre. Most listeners that would even bother to pick this up in the first place will be expecting to hear these two engage in jazz interactions, if not the light jazz present on Szabo and McFarland’s previous collaboration, GYPSY ’66, and there’s precious little of that outside of McFarland’s spectacular title track and parts of Szabo’s hypnotic “Spring Song”.

The focus here is on pop music, which finds the two leaders – for better or worse – singing. While their voices make for a peculiar yet not disagreeable blend, Szabo is clearly not the vocalist McFarland is. Together, they work best on the Beatles numbers (“The Word” and “Norwegian Wood”), chiefly due to McFarland’s amazing facility for suggesting a cross between a Beatle and a Beach Boy in his nearly monotonic delivery.

Szabo’s originals (“Yamaha Mama”, “You Will Pay”) aren’t too bad and seem to be the kind of thing he would continue exploring on his JAZZ RAGA album. Surprisingly, McFarland’s originals (“Hey, Here’s A Heart”, “Ups And Downs”, “She’s A Cruiser”) aren’t among his stronger work and, predictably, never caught on. There are also the seemingly unhip inclusions of “Nature Boy” and “Cool Water”, which probably wouldn’t have appealed to any pop rock fan who happened upon this set.

The album bombed at the time, receiving (few) poor reviews and garnering almost no sales to make it anything more than a cult classic, which indeed it has become. How? Even though it’s rather poorly recorded (one of McFarland’s earliest productions) and there are some genuinely jarring and incongruous moments on hand in this all-too brief set, repeated listens yield positively remarkable rewards – especially in the too-few instances of Gabor Szabo’s piquant and pithy playing.

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