German-Hungarian jazz clarinetist/composer Lajos Dudas has been performing on the radio for a long time. This "Birthday Edition 75" collects performances dating from 1984 to the early 2000s: about twenty years. All but one track was also composed by him, so it's a good picture of his adventurous composing and playing over a good part of his career. The earliest tracks (from WDR Cologne) are arguably the most dated: they're clearly in fusion mode, complete with period keyboard sounds. Still very catchy tunes, and there's some novelty in hearing a clarinet in that contextDudas' strong playing immediately removes any doubt about the clarinet's role in this amplified music.
1996's move to MTVA Budapest signals a dramatic change in the sound, as Dudas joins the acoustic Hungarian Radio Band Studio 11. "Kukeri Dance" has a Balkan tone, appropriate to the Bulgarian ritual it is named for, while "Urban Blues" is all brass swagger. The tracks from AtM Studio Cologne feature a small group, with the harmonic role filled solely by guitarist Philipp van Endert, Dudas' most frequent collaborator on this collection. It's decidedly cool-sounding, as indicated by titles like "West Coast" (which opens with a striking contrapuntal section overdubbed by Dudas) and the bossa nova "Cool Getz." Good guitar solo on that tune, as well as on "For Gabor (Remember Gabor Szabo)"certainly appropriate for a tune named for the prominent Hungarian jazz guitarist.
"Bach's Gedenken" is a duet between Dudas and van Endert which begins in counterpoint, then moves into free improvisationanother new stylistic color. Dudas even throws in a quote from Bach's well known "Minuet in G major" (the same tune used in the pop hit "Lover's Concerto" by The Toys). Here (as elsewhere) the guitarist provides rich, responsive accompaniment. "Minimal Musical" is a big band chart for the HR Frankfurt Jazz Ensemble, with memorable solos from Dudas and pianist Markus Becker. The collection closes with the return of the small group (minus the additional percussionist) for a live performance (at Radiokulturhaus) of the sole cover tune, fellow Hungarian Attila Zoller's "Meet."
A compilation that covers a lot of stylistic ground, unified by Dudas' magisterial clarinet playing. He's so consistently good that it's almost unnecessary to single out particular solos. His composing is equally impressive.
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