The Hungarian-born, German-resident clarinetist Lajos Dudas has a lengthy discography, and his long career was celebrated by the Vimeo video Ein Künstlerportrait. He has played classical music, and jazz from bebop to free. But, for what he says is his final album, he has chosen to play fresh interpretations of jazz standards and songs from the Great American Songbook. He is joined by his longtime accompanist, guitarist Philipp van Endert on all of the tracks (along with drummer Kurt Billker on most of them). The band is filled out by three bassists and two percussionists on various tracks, plus two guests.
Rodgers and Hart's "The Lady Is A Tramp" opens the set with a sprightly, almost reggae feel, inspiring lively solos from Dudas and Van Endert (employing an overdriven fusion tone). "Sweet Georgia Brown" continues the bright tone, perhaps more so as one of the tracks without a bassist. Even "Gloomy Sunday" (aka "Hungarian Suicide Song") finds its way from introspection to an upbeat, rhythmic solo section.
Guest Gerd Dudek makes a strong impression on soprano saxophone on "All Of Me," which opens with a contrapuntal dialog with the clarinet which continues through most of the tune, even after the guitar joins in to accompany. Dudek adds flute to Horace Silver's funky "Filthy McNasty," which also gives bassist Martin Gjakonovski a solo turn. Karl Berger is known as an avant-garde vibraphonist, but on George Gershwin's "A Foggy Day" (the ballad of the set) he demonstrates equal facility accompanying and soloing in a completely mainstream harmonic context.
The liner says "Lajos makes famous standards sound fresh again. Jazz for relaxed peopletimeless and exciting." All true, if seemingly a bit contradictory. It is a pleasure to hear such masterful clarinet playing, and everyone on the team steps up in support. If it really is his last hurrah, cheers to Lajos Dudas for a fine run.
The Lady Is a Tramp; Sweet Georgia Brown; A Thousand Dreams; Gloomy Sunday; Out of Nowhere; All of Me; A Foggy Day;
Filthy McNasty; St. Thomas; But I..?.