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Live From The Opus Jazz Club: Csaba Czirják Quintet, Xavi Torres Trio & Mash

Live From The Opus Jazz Club: Csaba Czirják Quintet, Xavi Torres Trio & Mash

Courtesy Bálint Hrotko


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The Csaba Czirják Quintet
Opus Jazz Club
Budapest, Hungary
September 9, 2021

Budapest Music Center is a utopian artistic edifice. It houses a large concert hall, a recording studio, rehearsal rooms, a research library, a café and an impressive hoard of instruments, suited to jazz and moderne classical performances. Another highly impressive part of the building is located down in its basement, with the Opus Jazz Club customarily hosting around five shows each week. The artists are mostly European, with a good proportion of Hungarian bands, and the occasional Stateside visitors. Hopefully this last ratio will be increasing as 2022 progresses.

Opus has a warming, inclusive, pale-woody vibration that's reminiscent of NYC's much-missed Jazz Standard club. It's also a restaurant, but each evening's audience remains for two sets, so the process is neither rushed nor disruptive to the music. There's a balcony area above, so a few extra tables can be accommodated, but the main part of the audience is seated below. Your scribe was in town for three nights, to sample bands from Budapest, Barcelona and Vienna, although this latter group blended Austrian, Hungarian and Iranian backgrounds.

The Csaba Czirják Quintet has a line-up of drums, bass, piano and tenor saxophone, with the leader on guitar. Bence Molnár also plays Prophet and Fender Rhodes. This was the album release concert for the band's third album, Sun And Moon. Drummer Tamás Czirják employs beats that are derived from funk or drum'n'bass patterns. The liquid guitar is often bonded to newer member Dániel Mester's tenor lines, while Ádám Bögöthy's basslines have allegiance to a Dave Holland in funksome mood. Mester took an extended, involved and rousing solo, spurred by his leader's cyclic guitar figure, as the band played their 'hit' number "Orion," which was indeed the climax of the night.

The Xavi Torres Trio
Opus Jazz Club
Budapest, Hungary
September 10, 2021

As part of the club's Catalan Sounds season, Xavi Torres led his well established Barcelona piano trio, featuring Andreu Pitarch (drums) and Martin Leiton (bass). The three played with passion from the outset, Leiton blooming with an articulate solo, exuding a warm, organic tone. The trio seemed to purposely leave little space in their music, with the leader issuing several forcefully romantic piano solos, before playing totally solo, as a bridge between numbers. Torres premiered fresh material, lacking titles, but already thoughtfully worked-out. Again, Leiton impressed with some string-bending extremity, with resonant, percussive certainty. A swift samba followed, as the evening graduated from expressive emotional charging to a more general good-time grooving.

Opus Jazz Club
Budapest, Hungary
September 11, 2021

The winning band of these three nights was easily Mash, a trio from Vienna whose name presumably refers to what they do with their musical conceptions. Drummer and percussionist András Dés is a Hungarian who moved to Vienna, but who's still a regular at Opus, likely to appear in different configurations. He's joined by Vincent Pongrácz (clarinet) and Mahan Mirarab (guitar). All three artists expand their foundation tools considerably. Dés sits on a cajon, and is surrounded by small percussion objects, Mirarab plays a two-necked electric, the upper being fretless, the lower good for tackling bass parts, while Pongrácz swaps between clarinet and its bass manifestation, often operating a cloak of pedal-induced effects.

Mash revel in intricate figures, rife with sharp stops and starts, citrus-strum strings governed by rotary skin patterns. Mirarab took a long, needling solo on his upper neck, with Pongrácz making his bass clarinet sound like a groggy Moog, frantic convolutions imbued with a modernist classical precision in the percussion department. The clarinet capered across a twitchily mechanoid-organic spasming, with a remarkable Dés drum solo, full of tiny rattle-clusters, punctuated by hard strikes, incredibly powerful, even though he shies away from using a bass drum. In contrast, Dés would keep to simple hand-claps and knee-slaps, returning to the roots, as Mirarab constructed a cyclic guitar figure, but made by fingertips, soft-hammering the strings. Clarinet smeared, as the double-axe started to sound like an oud, jumping between the necks, fretted and fretless phrases exchanged. This band typified the vivid quality of style and culture collisions frequently made down in the Opus den of creativity.



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