Femme Fatale (1981)
Gabor Szabo Featuring Chick Corea

  1. Femme Fatale (Gabor Szabo/David Roney)
  2. Zingaro (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
  3. Serena (James Harrah)
  4. A Thousand Times (Gabor Szabo)
  5. Out of the Night (Chick Corea)

Gabor Szabo, James Harrah (1-4) – guitar
Chick Corea – piano (5)
Leon Bisquera – keyboards (except 3 and 5)
David Roney (2, 4), Abraham Laboriel (1) – electric bass
Hugh Moran – drums (except 3 and 5)
Everette Bryson – percussion (except 3 and 5)

Added to tracks 2 and 4:
Lawrence Sonderling, Bobby Dubow, Ken Yerke, John Wittenberg, Sheldon Sanov, Carol Shive – violin
Pamela Goldsmith, Arthur Royval, Michael Nowak – viola
Ronald Cooper, Ray Kelley – cello
Gary Grant, Jerry Hey* – trumpet, fluegelhorn
William Reichenbach – trombone
Kim Hutchcroft*, Larry Williams* – reeds

Orchestrations by David Campbell (2 and 4)

Produced by Gabor Szabo and [uncredited] David Campbell
Engineered by [uncredited] Joel Soifer and Joey Lattimer

Recorded March to June 1979 at Fidelity Recording Studio, Hollywood, California

1 to 5 issued in 1981 on LP as Pepita International SLPR 707

* Jerry Hey, Kim Hutchcroft and Larry Williams from Seawind, as credited on the album.

Notes:

(1) “Serena” is a duo performance with Szabo on unamplified acoustic guitar and an unidentified acoustic guitarist (possibly himself). 

(2) Szabo indicates Corea wrote “Out of the Night” as a duet for the two to perform and, additionally, lyrics were written for the song, which were to be sung by Roberta Flack on the other side of the record. It is not clear if lyrics were ever written (or by who) and there is no known evidence that any such vocal recording exists. 

(3) According to bassist David Roney, he composed “Femme Fatale” with Gabor Szabo but did not play on the tune because of the birth of his son on the day of the recording. Because of the rather convoluted release of the album, Roney did not end up receiving the proper credit. The song’s publisher does, however, credit Roney as cowriter, which is why it is listed here.

Released in 1981 on Pepita Records, a “popular” division of the state-owned label, Hungaroton, Femme Fatale was originally recorded in 1979 at Fidelity Sound Recording Studios in Studio City, California, for the Atlantic Records label, which rejected it.

“Fidelity Sound Recording Studios was owned by Artie Ripp,” according to Femme Fatale’s second engineer, Joey Latimer. “The reason this album was recorded there is that David Campbell, father of current artist Beck, was doing a lot of work there as a producer and arranger because he liked working with staff engineer Joel Soifer.

Since David was active in Scientology during that time, he brought several artists to the studio who were also into Scientology. These included Chick Corea, Gayle Moran, Stanley Clarke and Jimmie Spheeris.

“It was my understanding that Gabor had been abusing [drugs] during that period and Chick and others got him to go to the Scientology center to ‘clean himself up.’ He did clean up and then they brought him into our studio to record. That was a good thing because he was very present during the sessions, smoking cigarettes and drinking a lot of coffee.

“I recall that David Campbell contracted the studio, musicians, and arranged some of the charts. Chick may have also been involved in that, too. Anyway, during the recording of the tracks David, Chick, and Gabor collaborated on the producing. When we finished recording each track, pretty much live in the studio as I recall, they would then ask each other, ‘What did you think?’ If it wasn’t agreed that it was ‘the track’ then we would do another take. 

“After the project was recorded, we stored the tapes in our tape vault and never heard anything about the album coming out. One day, a few months later, Gabor shows up out of the blue and demanded the tapes from the sessions. He said something about having a major falling out with the folks from Scientology and he was very angry. He said he was going back to Hungary, to where he came from.  Not long after that we heard in the news that he had died there.”

The melodic date has its share of interesting moments, even though more material from these sessions probably exists. “Out of the Night” intriguingly pairs Szabo with pianist Chick Corea for a sparkling duet performance and the Flamenco fusion of Szabo’s excellent Return To Forever-like “A Thousand Times” stands up well enough to have become a staple of the guitarist’s live performances.

Szabo’s melodicism is especially apparent on Jobim’s “Zingaro” and the pretty “Serena” as well. Recorded more than three years before his death, Femme Fatale is Szabo’s last known studio recording, though he was said to have recorded during his 1981 stay in Hungary. But it is an especially pleasing, if too brief, effort gleaming with the guitarist’s appealing melodic skill.