Gabor Szabo: The Sorcerer / More Sorcery

Hypnotic and forceful 1967 two-fer from legendary jazz guitarist

After emigrating from Budapest in the mid-50s, Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo found his way into the U.S. jazz scene, first with Chico Hamilton, and starting in 1966 as a group leader. These two 1967 live albums come from the middle of a productive two-year stay on Impulse!, and collect performances from an April run at Boston’s Jazz Workshop and a September date at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Szabo plays in a quintet of guitar, bass, drums and percussion. The song list mixes originals from Szabo and guitarist Jimmy Stewart, with standards, pop hits and several Brazilian tunes. This quintet was one of Szabo’s best showcases, as the interplay and conversations between the two guitars are buoyed by a solid rhythm section. Hal Gordon, who’d only joined the group the month before the Boston dates, quickly established his congas as an integral part of the combo’s sound. The use of only strings and drums (as well as the combination of acoustic and electric guitars) set the group apart from horn-driven jazz acts, creating a sound that suggested the ballroom jams of San Francisco, but without indulging either the volume of rock or the avant garde changes of fusion. This two-fer is an excellent showcase of what Szabo’s mid-60s quintet could do. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

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