Flemm – Mizrab (2024)

János Bujdosó – guitar
Béla Ágoston – sax
Dezső Oláh – piano
Modul aka Mango – Akai MPC
Gábor Gergácz – moog bass
Gergő Szőcs – drums

“One sound or ten thousand sounds, if the ear doesn’t like it, it’s not good.”

This sentence was uttered in an interview with Gábor Szabó in 1974, who would have been 88 years old as of this writing, in 2024. The gut-wrenching ars poetica behind the legendary jazz guitarist’s oeuvre piqued the interest of Hungarian drummer Gergő Szőcs (b. 1990?).

Subsequently, an eclectic group of Hungarian musical virtuosos assembled in appreciation of the jazz guitar legend. They recorded interpretations of four different Gábor Szabó songs, resulting in such a mind-blowing experience that they have begun playing together as Flemm for further projects.

“The musicians created their own community through improvisation. The only important organizing principle: pure feeling.”

The Hungarian Blunt Shelter label has thus far posted only one of these four performances, choosing the beguiling “Mizrab,” perhaps the choicest of Szabó’s signature compositions. It’s a beautifully compelling performance that celebrates and illuminates the genius of Gábor Szabó, the musician and musical thinker.

Because “Mizrab” is essentially a guitar tune – a song that only guitarists cover – it might be easy to conclude that guitarist János Bujdosó is the leader here. With that in mind, here is a little more about him, from his own web site:

“Born in 1975, [János Bujdosó] is a well-known solo guitarist in the Hungarian underground music scene, whose previous bands include Chakra Hacker, Pop Ivan, Egy Kiss Erzsi Zene, Specko Jedno, and Kistehén. He is currently an important member of the cult band Európa Kiadó and one of the leading musicians in the recently launched late-night talk show Péntek Esti Partizán. He has composed works for several theatrical and film productions. He is [also] a master of musical experimentation, and at his solo concerts, one never knows what to expect, but one thing is for sure: It will be an unforgettable experience!”

But this soulful, energized and engaging performance is a true group experience, with superb sounds coming from the guitarist as well as the more up-fronted sounds of the otherwise previously backgrounded pianist, tenor saxophonist, drummer and others.

This is new for Szabó,’whose recording career was largely defined by a “soloist plus rhythm section” matrix.

Here, everyone is the leader, a direction jazz has taken for many years now, but one that is new – and welcome – for the music of Gábor Szabó. The beautifully prominent piano, which is not a common sound on the typical Szabó recording, is helmed by Dezső Oláh, who positively reminds this listener of Nik Bärtsch, while saxophonist Béla Ágoston – another stranger in the guitarist’s works – recalls Frank Lowe.

Drummer Gergő Szőcs – the guy behind all of this – is forwarded in a way that Chico Hamilton might have approved of, particularly in the days Szabó was in that group.

Flemm debuted a Gábor Szabó tribute concert on April 5, 2024, a performance at the Gödör Club in Budapest. Blunt Shelter has apparently recorded a CD that seems to be forthcoming. Stay tuned for more. If the above is any indication, it will be great.

Many thanks to Hamza Noémi, whose passion for this music led me to this video.