Lajos Dudas Quartet: Jazz And The City (2012)
Most musicians firmly plant themselves in one particular territory in the music world, but clarinetist Lajos Dudas prefers to set up camp at the border crossings, allowing for swift travel between stylistic realms. Dudas doesn't discriminate when it comes to direction, and he's made that evident through his own endeavors over the past fifty years. He spars with the avant-garde elite, swings like mad in straightforward settings, tackles classical music with the requisite grace and technique that the repertoire demands and appears to have a damn good time doing all of it. While his skills and artistic scope have allowed him to work successfully in all of these settings, he doesn't come across as a musician with multiple-personality disorder when he puts a project together. He always shows extreme focus on the task at hand and Jazz And The City is no exception.
This quartet date finds Dudas mostly on the straight and narrow, delivering four self-penned originals, a selection from guitarist Attila Zoller and five jazz classics. While the head-solos-head format is employed on more than one occasion, the element of surprise is still alive and well in the performances. The distinctly different personalities at play complement one another and help to keep things interesting. Dudas is the melody man in all respects and guitarist Philipp Van Endert dirties things up with his gritty soloing ("Miles"). Drummer Kurt Billker brings a rock attitude into the mix with his solid back beats and off-beat cymbal bell accents, but he's still capable of working in subtle fashion ("I've Got The World On A String"). Bassist Martin Gjakonowski has two major roles, bringing a slightly funkier attitude into the rock-based rhythm section ("Hommage To O.P.") and amplifying the ideals of the other players at any given moment.
The program is set in motion with Dudas' own engaging "Riffs," which has an angular melodic design. "Hommage To O.P." is a clear album highlight, as it features some strong soloing from both string men, and Leonard Bernstein's "America" is born anew, with its tropicalia-meets-Brazil vibe. "Cab Car" is an unadulterated blues with dynamic arcs, "Soft Waves" is hardly soft, "Take 5" takes the tempo up a bit from the original and "Just Friends" slows things down, allowing the band to take a collective breath as they finish things off.
While nobody, save for the man himself, knows where Lajos Dudas might go next, a return to this format with these musicians would be welcome; the music merits an encore album.
Track Listing: Riffs; Miles; Here's That Rainy Day; Hommage to O. P.; America; Cab Car; I've Got The World On A String; Soft Waves; Take 5; Just Friends.
Personnel: Lajos Dudas: clarinet; Philipp van Endert: guitar; Martin Gjakonowski: bass; Kurt Bilker: drums.