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Lajos Dudas: Return to the Future

Mark Sullivan By

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Hungarian/German clarinetist Lajos Dudas has had his long career celebrated by the Vimeo video Ein Künstlerportrait, along with the accompanying Munich Concert video. This album follows with a career retrospective from 1979 to 2013, focusing primarily on his original music, in a variety of settings. Dudas calls it "the ultimate summary," a "selection of notable and timeless live and studio recordings with different musicians at different places."

Half of the recordings are live, and the ensembles are primarily of the chamber jazz variety. "Miniaturen" opens the album with a clarinet quartet—which sounds like contemporary concert music, and may not involve any improvisation—with vibraphone featured on "Echo" and "Nightfall."

The 1990s are represented by small groups with clarinet and double bass (sometimes joined by vocals). They show Dudas approaching bebop ideas from an increasingly free perspective. The one cover in the set is "All The Things You Are," which is played by a quintet with frequent collaborator guitarist Philipp van Endert in the chordal role. The performance is an almost pointillist interpretation of the tune at first, moving into a contemporary rhythmic treatment.

The newest tracks date from 2013. They are both free improvisations, illustrating his voyage of discovery from bebop to an increasingly open improvisational approach. Lajos Dudas is an under-sung clarinetist, a master of modern jazz on the instrument. This album is another demonstration of his gifts, showing his skills in composition, classical clarinet playing, bebop, blues, and free improvisation.

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