Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Viktor Toth - Popping Bopping [BMC Records]

Viktor Toth - alto sax
Bart Maris - trumpet, effects
Matyas Szandai - double bass
Robert Mehmet Ikiz - drums

Laszlo Valik - mixing and live effects

Budapest Music Center Records 2011

Viktor Toth stirred the jazz scene and caught some attention with a series of trio/quartet releases featuring the one and only Hamid Drake on drums. Vivid, vigorous, dynamic music merged succesfully jazz of the Ornette Coleman's tradition and hungarian folk melodies. This particular release focus much more clearly on the jazz core of the music and brings a selection of powefull music played in the free-bop tradition of Ornette's classic quartet, with melodic themes, dynamic interplay, sharp and wild soloing.
"Pocket-Ticket" even in its title reminds slighly of the melodic bop tunes like "Humpty Dumpty" (same case with the shamelessly swinging at ease "Hong Kong" with some bluesy honking) - whole lot of fun. "My Home" is an enchanting ballad with beautifull, nostalgic melody played unisono by sax and trumpet.

The centerpiece of the album is the 15-mins long "-34' C Sunny / +29; C Humid" is which starts  ominous,  spare sounds, like a dark cloud in the space, the tension augmented by some simply electronic effects, distorted echoes, resonance, feedback - the music is quite surreal and dark (with some rapid and sudden drum'n'bass passages to add suspense), one third (around 5 minues) into the track the band starts grooving madly, Toth plays plays a tearing solo on alto, occasionally duelled by trumpet echoes, and once again they change the pace for something more funky, as gritty alto solo rides on the fat bass riff,broken drumbeats and fuzzy, spacious trumpet thrills. A nice modern twist on free-bop idiom with a nod to Miles. There's a hint on folk song in "Ballad for White Flowers" featuring two perfectly balanced, elegant solos - muted trumpet and soulfull alto, with the rhythm section providing grace and delicate swing, effortlessly. "Stars Stairs" si a simple melody repetitive melody, basic line played by alto, replayed by the trumpet and than once again by the echo effect, to create a form of classical canon, where the simultaneous lines naturally fit together, simple yet brilliantly effective.
This is a solid portion of just fantastic jazz. Toth is one of the most versatile players, equally at home while free-bopping or riding some nasty funk groove as while soothing some smoky ballad line of Lester Young worthiness, you'll hear echoes of Coltrane's spirituality, down to the earth bluesiness of Coleman, Charlie Parker's energy, still Viktor's vision on alto, as well as the band's learer is clearly his own. While his compositions and the quartet's music are so deeply rooted in jazz what they do is unmistakenably contemporary.
Nothing extraordinary here, no barrriers broken, no lines crossed, yet it all fits together so perfectly (the compositions, the band's sound, the musician's playing), it all seems to be done with so effortless bravado that one just can't pass by this music without taking notice. It's simply enough a piece of great jazz music.

some tracks are available on this playlist.

below the quartet playing "My Home" and "-34' C Sunny / +29; C Humid"  (unfortunately the trumpet is so low in the mix).

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