Jazz Workshop, Boston: April 14-15, 1967
Gabor Szabo, Jimmy Stewart (g); Lajos "Louis" Kabok (b); Marty Morell (d); Hal Gordon (per).
Gabor Szabo’s 1967-68 quintet, featuring classically-trained guitarist Jimmy Stewart, was one of the iconoclastic guitarist’s very best units. Live performances like this, recorded April 14 and 15, 1967, at Boston’s Jazz Workshop, document some of the exciting interplay the group stirred during its brief existence. The quintet’s constants were the two guitarists with Szabo’s childhood friend from Hungary, bassist Louis Kabok, and percussionist Hal Gordon. The drummer’s chair, here filled by Marty Morell, was bound to be different every night; filled at various times by West Coasters Jim Keltner, Bill Goodwin, Dick Berk and others. THE SORCERER reveals how successfully the group was combining jazz with rock (the utterly lightweight "The Beat Goes On" and the Hendrix-like "Space," sampled by Madonna for "Mer Girl" from 1998's RAY OF LIGHT), bossa nova (Little Boat" and "Corcovado") and exotica ("Mizrab"). The two guitarists are creatively envelope listeners in just about any mood they explore. It is most apparent in the way they ignite the standards, "People" and "What Is This Thing Called Love." The latest CD reissue of this set is fleshed out with three excellent tracks from the same concert that were originally included on the LP MORE SORCERY - the hypnotic "Los Matadoros," the potent "People" and the effervescent "Corcovado." Until Impulse! gets around to releasing the guitarist’s superior SPELLBINDER on CD, THE SORCERER is one of the best introductions to one of the most outstanding and unique guitarists to have emerged during the 1960s.
BLINDFOLD TEST: Szabo's performance of "Little Boat" heard here was played by Leonard Feather for Herbie Mann in a Blindfold Test featured in the February 8, 1968, issue of Down Beat. Mann says of the performance, "(t)hat's Gabor with Potato and Willie Bobo (sic - Hal Gordon) - I think - I think I recognize Potato and Willie Bobo's playing. There was still a clash between the bass player and the regular drummer, and I don't really feel that a conga drum really belongs in a bossa nova. If this is Gabor, he's playing much better now than he was on that record. It didn't sound like a Brazilian bossa nova, definitely. I can't truthfully see timbales and a conga drum on a bossa nova. I have done exactly the same thing, and I'm the first to admit it was wrong. I wouldn't want to rate this."