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Lajos Dudas Trio: Live at Porgy & Bess

C. Michael Bailey By

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Hungarian-German clarinetist Lajos Dudas has quite the résumé in Europe, with about 50 recordings to his credit. He has been around long enough to have had clarinetist Artie Shaw remark on his talent, but do not mistake his longevity with a marriage to the traditional mainstream of jazz; it is anything but. Dudas has adventurous spirit that seeks to probe the same sonic areas as Jimmy Giuffre's 1960s trio, albeit in a somewhat more behaved fashion. The present live outing, recorded in Vienna, Austria's Porgy & Bess club finds the clarinetist leading an understated guitar-bass trio through a spirited and impressionist collection of original and standard compositions that clearly heated the club like quiet fire.

Dudas' composing is similar to that of the late alto saxophonist Art Pepper, with freely played melodies tacked down with complex heads and interludes. The lengthy opener, "Soft Waves" is characterized by some magic from Dudas' longtime guitarist, Philipp van Ender, with the clarinetist insinuating himself into what sounds like free jazz barely tethered by a recurring theme. The originals "Maydance" and "Back to L.A." bear the same characteristics. Pianist Thelonious Monk's "In Walked Bud," typically a piano workout (considering its subject, pianist Bud Powell), is given breezy attention, Dudas sliding the theme over itself while van Endert holds down the harmonic fort. "Embraceable You" is the straightest piece in the recital, subtly textured and finely applied. Live at Porgy & Bess employs an intimate band format in an equally intimate and receptive venue. A fine performance.

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