Lajos Dudas: Lajos Dudas: 50 Years With Jazzclarinet - The Best Of Lajos Dudas

Douglas Payne By

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Lajos Dudas

50 Years With Jazzclarinet: The Best Of Lajos Dudas

Jazz Sick Records


The clarinet is one of the most important instruments in the foundation of jazz. But it lost its luster after Benny Goodman fell out of popularity in the 1950s. After 1960, the few of the American clarinetists still left playing the instrument mostly migrated to Europe. It was only in Europe that the clarinet seemed to thrive after 1960. This is when Hungarian émigré Lajos Dudás (b. 1941), who, from the mid-1960s on, has centered himself in Germany, found his niche.

He's played prolifically there ever since, particularly on many radio broadcasts with Germany's best orchestras and Europe's finest jazz players. He's also been recorded frequently and quite well since the mid-1970s on a variety of German and Hungarian labels, in some startlingly differing contexts (most notably in a duo format), with some tremendously supportive players and many long-time musical associates.

Lajos Dudás beautifully conjures the entire history of jazz clarinet, from its very beginnings to its swing and bop modes to its freest and the most romantic of now accepted clarinet-jazz moods. He may well even cover this entire trajectory in just one song. It's part of his nature. He's almost completely unencumbered by fad or fashion.

50 Years With Jazzclarinet: The Best Of Lajos Dudas captures a fraction of Dudás' prolific output. It is the latest of the clarinetist's samplers. But the point is that this truly under-appreciated clarinetist has a long recording history that hasn't earned the respect his major-label contemporaries have been given.

This well-programmed set, however, doesn't quite live up to its rather unwieldy name. The span of consideration is more like 30 years than 50, the music isn't all jazz and Dudas is not heard exclusively on clarinet. It is, however, a terrific representation of his best musical performances and provides not only some music that is otherwise unavailable on CD, it surprises with some never-before issued gems that account for a mere sliver of what must be hundreds of hours of recorded radio performances the clarinetist has made over the last half century (which is probably where the reference to 50 years comes from).

Dudas aligns himself here with noble European jazz lights such as fellow Hungarian ex-pats guitarist Attila Zoller (on "Rumpelstilzchen") and vibraphonist Tommy Vig (on "Benny"), Hungarian singer and actress Marta Szirmay (on "Wiegenlied"), trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff (on "Blueduet") and vibraphonist and free-jazz icon Karl Berger (on "Pirouette" and "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off"), not to mention many group regulars including drummer and fellow Hungarian ex-pat János Szudy, German bassist Ali Haurand and, most especially, the great German guitarist Philipp van Endert, who figures on ten of this double CD's 25 tracks.

There is great variety in the presentations Dudás provides here. Maybe too much. But the element of jazz, or more accurately a great sense of swing, pervades throughout. And, somehow, the added presence of Endert inspires Dudas to even greater heights and, ultimately, makes for some really exciting music.

Like so many compilations, it's not exactly the sort of thing somebody else would have put together. But far too few people know about Lajos Dudás and the great wealth of music he has contributed to the jazz pantheon. 50 Years With Jazzclarinet: The Best Of Lajos Dudas is an excellent introduction.

Tracks: CD1: Detour; Rumpelstilzchen; Benny; Song For Jinni; Blueduet; Wiegenlied; Change Of time; Grave; At Carmelo´s; Backstage; Csardas Obstine. CD2: Summertime; Sarabande; Gavotte En Rondo; La Gelee; Pals; Cool Getz; Un Poco Presto; Miles; Sunday Afternoon; Bourree; Triplets; Children At play; Pirouette; Let´s Call The Whole Thing Off.

Personnel: Lajos Dudas: clarinet, alto saxophone; Karl Berger: vibraphone; Gerd Dudek: saxophone; Philipp van Endert: guitar; Tom van der Geld: vibraphone; Howard Johnson: bass saxophone; Albert Mangelsdorf: trombone; Tommy Vig: vibraphone; Attila Zoller: guitar; others.



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