Friday, November 11, 2011

Szilard Mezei Trio - Tisza [Slam]

Szilard Mezei - viola
Ervin Malina - double bass
Istvan Csik - drums

Slam Productions 2011

Only recently I appreciated Mezei's Wind Quartet release "Innen" on Ayler Records and here's another chance to get acquainted with his music. His long-time working trio is probably the most accessible musical context he works in and is a great point of introduction to Mezei's fusion of jazz and folk (with much less stress on his modern and classical interests shown clearly in the material composed for larger ensembles).

"Tisza" brings a selection of composed tunes heavily tinged with folk sense of melody, jazz sense of pulse and improvisation-derived passion. Earthy yet gracefull sound of viola corresponds to the potent sense of swing. The strong connection between the musicians, forged by the years of playing together, fuels the compositions with instant fire. 
Whether it's the dynamic dance (like "Along the Coast" that starts the cd) or nostalgic ballad (like "Outlaw drinks from Tap" that follows) the trio's music is direct, almost straight-forward, filled with a plenty of strong sparking solos by all three players. Mezei's viola can be sharp like a sting, or gentle and subtle, his fierce playing is filled with virtuosic sense dramaturgy. Ervin Malina keeps the harmonic base and holds the music together with strong walking figures, his solos (like the gritty bowed notes on "Prisoner's Song") show considerable skills, sensibility and sense of adventure. Istvan Csik plays light, filling the air with swinging accents on plates and completes that with some classy solo statements, power and grace. In short: Szilard makes the notes sing while the other two keep the rhythms dancing. 

This is a fantastic set of folk tunes (although, apart from two Hungarian folk songs, those are contemporary compositions by Szilard). I can easily immagine those being accompanied by a set of stories, folk fairy tales, telling events and adventures of joy, drama, magic, passion, broken hearts and outlaws.
While modern improvised music often creates the feeling of emotional distance and fills thus created gap between the performer and the listenere with intellectual challenges, the music of this trio is down to earth and straight to the body. The sound may be raw but the playing is spirited, vivid, vigorous, vital and filled with gusto. Intense but accessible. Highly recommended.

A track from the cd is presented in this playlist here
The trio performing a wild "Cougar" composition (not any of the three Trio's cds I know, but it gives a good picture of the music this group plays).

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