A household name in Hungary's jazz topographic for about 40 years, Hungarian guitarist Attila László
has made a lasting impact on the fusion guitar world with a number of critically acclaimed collaborations, and by performing alongside international heavy weights of the genre, such as Randy Brecker
, Peter Erskine
and Weather Report bassist Miroslav Vitous
. More recently he released an exciting workout in original modern fusion on Bridges of Souls
(Dreamers Collective, 2014) in co-leadership with his compatriot Ferenc Nemeth
on drums. Everything about Laszlo's musical approach can be described as smooth. His guitar-tone. The lines he draws from it. The harmonies in which he envelops those lines as well as the general preciseness and sweetness with which he then logically crafts his melodies and compositions out of the above.
On Concerto for Jazz Guitar & Chamber Orchestra
the fret-acrobat is joined by a core quartet, a number of flutes and the Budapest String Orchestra, conducted by Laszlo Kovacs and whose scores were arranged by Christian Olah. Divided over three movements, clocking in at about ten minutes each, the half hour concert proves a lush display of elegant craft and comforting sweeps of harmony very much consistent with the notion of the "smoothness" just mentioned.
Very little goes against what would be expected from an added orchestra to a jazz quartet. In their harmonic layout the strings play a reinforcing role rather than an independent one, while the flutes decorate the outer melodic lines with imitations and small embellishments. On the compositional side of things, the display remains varied enough for it to result in an overall dynamic experience. The highlights, however, are discovered within the soloist moments and sections that focus on the core quartet. Laszlo's classic approach brings to mind fusion heroes from a past era, recalling the likes of German bandleader and guitarist Volker Kriegel
in his rock-meets-jazz vocabulary and nimble fluidity over the board. Bassist Béla Lattmann
and drummer Tamás Hidász are more than capable of holding their own and deliver tight rhythmic backing. On the final movement the two propel the orchestra to the point where whiplash would seem a plausible outcome, while pianist Kalman Olah
is given his moment to shine in the second movement commanding the keys with taste and control in one of the strongest solo sections on the record.
Saying that this music is original would be a lie. Pretending not to have a blast listening to it would however be the far bigger one. Concerto for Jazz Guitar & Chamber Orchestra
is a fine display of the craft that Attila László
has been working on to near perfection (what is really perfect after all...) for so many decades and presents the guitarist in an adequately pompous setting.
I. Movement; II. Movement; III. Movement;
László Kovács: conductor.