Gabor Szabo – Selected Bibliography

Many of the books below are only of interest to jazz researchers who bother to look for them. But if you’re one of the brave ones willing to hunt for some of these titles, be forewarned. Most provide only an entry on, or a brief reference to, Gabor Szabo. Exceptions are, however, noted.

Berendt, Joachim, translated by Dan Morgenstern and Helmut and Barbar Bredigkeit, The Jazz Book (Lawrence Hill & Company). 1975. pp. 272-273.

Bruyninckx, Walter (compiler), Fifty Years of Recorded Jazz 1917-1967 — Volume 36 (self published in Belgium). 1967.

Bruyninckx, Walter (compiler), Modern Jazz (Be Bop/Hard Bop/West Coast) 1942- 1945 — Volume 6 (self published in Belgium). 1985.

Bruyninckx, Walter (compiler), Progressive Jazz (Free/Third Stream/Fusion) — Volume 3 (self published in Belgium). 1984.

Carr, Ian, Digby Fairweather and Brian Priestley, Jazz: The Rough Guide (Rough Guides). 1995.

Well written and researched but never very satisfying, this sort of beginner’s guide-to-jazz features a brief entry on Gabor Szabo (whose surname here is spelled “Szabö” for some reason). Of the guitarist’s recordings, only Spellbinder is noted — with the writers’ familiar take on jazz quite apparent: “It doesn’t all work, but when it does the results are exhilarating.” The Szabo entry also mistakenly refers to Szabo’s short-lived and never-recorded group, The Perfect Circle, as First Circle.

CD International (CD World Reference Guide, Popular Music Edition): Winter 1994/95 [since updated]

Claghorn, Charles Eugene, Biographical Dictionary of Jazz (Prentice Hall Inc). 1982.

Consortium of College and University Media Centers, Educational Film & Video Locator — Volume 2(R.R. Bower). Fourth Edition 1990-1991. 1990.

Coryell, Larry, Improvising: My Life In Music (Backbeat Books). 2007.

Guitarist Larry Coryell remembers the first time he heard Gabor Szabo. Standing outside The Penthouse club in Coryell’s native Seattle (he was underage at the time), looking through a hole in the wall at Gabor on stage: “He was playing a Martin folk guitar with a DeArmond pickup, soloing in a way I had never heard before. It was boppish, but there were none of the usual jazz clichés – and he used the open strings, ringing free with other single notes, to get a sitar-like effect. It was exotic and unique.” (p. 23). Coryell talks about hearing Szabo with Charles Lloyd, playing with Szabo in Chico Hamilton’s band, missing the Jazz Raga recording sessions and recording his “jazz guitar mentor[‘s]” “Gypsy Queen” in 1971.

Entice, Wayne, and Paul Rubin, Jazz Spoken Here (Da Capo Press). 1994.

A collection of radio interviews conducted by the authors during the seventies with a variety of jazz musicians. A 1976 interview with Gabor Szabo is on pp. 254-268.

Erlewine, Michael, Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra and Scott Yanow, All Music Guide to Jazz — 2nd Edition (Miller Freeman Books). 1996.

The addition of editor Scott Yanow greatly enhances this volume over the first edition, but the listing on Szabo is brief and provides no commentary.

Erlewine, Michael, Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra and Scott Yanow, All Music Guide to Jazz — 3rd Edition (Miller Freeman Books). 1998.

These books improved with each successive edition, although the fourth edition (published in 2002) is the last to have been printed. Scott Yanow is a significant contributor to the well-written chronicles, covering 1,440 jazz artists and 13,200 jazz recordings. Richard S. Ginell also contributes quality insight to the reliable volume. But the third edition also includes (my) expanded coverage of Gabor Szabo’s career and many of his recordings. I also contributed to the sections on Booglaoo “Joe” Jones, Gary McFarland and Oliver Nelson. One of the more consumer-friendly books on a wide range of jazz recordings.

Feather, Leonard, and Ira Gitler, The Encyclopedia of Jazz in the 70s (Da Capo Press). 1976.

Feather, Leonard, The Encyclopedia of Jazz in the 60s (Da Capo Press). 1966.

In the days before CDs (!), these were were about the only books that covered jazz. Artists themselves provided biographical, discographical and performance information to the author(s), who added their own historical commentary. Essential for any jazz historian.

Gavin, James, Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne (Atria Books). 2009.

Gavin briefly touches on the musical partnership guitarist Gabor Szabo shared with Lena Horne in this fairly gripping biography of the singer. “Szabo dazzled Horne,” writes Gavin. “‘He plays fantastic guitar,’ she told John Gruen. ‘Very down, very soulful guitar.'” Gavin goes on to state that “(a)fter all her years of singing with with orchestras of bountiful lushness, Horne loved Szabo’s minimalist playing” but concludes “her partnership with Szabo petered out by the midseventies, as he sank into the heroin habit that eventually killed him.” (pp 391-392).

Graham, Bill, and Robert Greenfield, Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out (Doubleday). 1992.

The fabled impresario takes a few paragraphs to detail how in the summer of 1967 (June 20-25), he presented the Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore Auditorium with opening acts, Gabor Szabo and this “little band from the east,” the Jimi Hendryx Experience. After only the first show, members of the Jefferson Airplane asked Hendryx if they could thereafter open for him.

Harris, Steve, Film, Television and Stage Music on Phonograph Records(McFarland & Company).

Holtje, Steve and Nancy Ann Lee (editors), Musichound Jazz: The Essential Album Guide (Visible Ink). 1998.

Well researched and written jazz guide that covers 1300 artists over 1500 pages and rightfully regards Gabor Szabo worthy of inclusion. The mostly fair-minded biography of the guitarist is handled by Eric J. Lawrence and provides a list of recommended albums (though the author has little use for Szabo’s music from Gabor Szabo 1969 on.

Kahn, Ashley: The House That Trane Built: The Story Of Impulse Records (W.W. Norton & Company), 2006.

A necessary yet disappointing account of one of jazz’s most iconic labels. Impulse Records was home to Gabor Szabo for much of the 1960s. The book makes it clear that revolutionary jazz – inspired by the lead of John Coltrane – is what made the label a bastion of the period’s most creative music. But it (almost grudgingly) finds time to give credit to the influence more popular music had on the label’s music too. Szabo called it “pop-rock” and Kahn gives him his due on pages 166-169. In what is the book’s best feature, Kahn spotlights about three dozen Impulse albums – which, he acknowledges, might not cover everyone’s favorites – but, in his mind, signify the inspiration, impact and soul of Impulse records. I disagreed with a few of the choices and was disappointed that none of Szabo’s Impulse music was featured (although frequent collaborator Gary McFarland’s The October Suite is one of Khan’s justifiable choices). Then again, I disagreed with much of what is here.

Kernfeld, Barry (editor), The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz(MacMillan). Revised 1994.

Lanza, Joseph: Easy-Listening Acid Trip: An Elevator Ride Through ’60s Psychedelic Pop (Feral House). 2020.

This engaging, entertaining and beautifully-illustrated book – by the author of the acclaimed Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Muzak, Easy-Listening, And Other Moodsong – celebrates “the trippy paradox” linking psychedelic pop to easy-listening music. The book unearths a bounty of records (mostly from the mid to late sixties) from the maestros of beautiful music who dipped their wick in the kaleidoscopic ink of psychedelia. Lanza finds space to appreciate and enjoy Gabor Szabo’s too-little celebrated Wind Sky And Diamonds, notably spinning the guitarist’s takes on “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” “A Day In The Life” and “White Rabbit.” The book makes you want to go crate digging. Read my review here.

Leng, Simon: Soul Sacrifice: The Santana Story (SAF Publishing Ltd.). 2000.

Libisch, Károly, Feketére Festve: Szabó Gábor Gitármüvész Bio-Diszkográfiája [Painted Black: The Biography and Discography of Guitar Player Gabor Szabo], (Kariton). 1993/2020.

The first and most substantial book devoted exclusively to Gabor Szabo and his music is exceedingly well researched and very lovingly assembled. I am grateful to Sandor Fazekas, a very kind gentleman in Turkey, who brought Libisch’s book to my attention and Géza Gábor Simon in Hungary who arranged to get me a copy. See Feketére Festve.

Lord, Tom, The Jazz Discography (Lord Music Reference Inc./Cadence Jazz Books). 1991-98.

Tom Lord’s compendium originally amounted to 26 volumes. This discography – virtually a collection of thousands of recording artists’ discography – manages to cover a staggering history of recorded jazz. I provided some of the detail for the Gabor Szabo listing. The books were eventually converted to a CD-ROM, which is updated on an annual basis.

Meeker, David,Jazz in the Movies (Da Capo Press), New (2nd) Edition. 1981.

National Information Center for Educational Media,Film and Video Finder — Title Section (Plexus Publishing). Second Edition. 1989.

Nicholson, Stuart, Jazz Rock (Schirmer Books). 1998. Discography by Jon Newley.

Interesting book briefly notes Szabo’s early use of Beatles songs and the current pop/rock tunes his Impulse albums included “as vehicles for improvisation over straight-ahead or light-pop rhythms.” The comprehensive discography lists only Szabo’s Impulse titles (p. 357).

Ruppli, Michel (compiler),Atlantic Records: A Discography — Volume 2 (Greenwood Press). 1979.

This is included because of listings for the Charles Lloyd Quartet’s recordings of “Lady Gabor” (a.k.a. “Gypsy ’66”) during 1966. Although Gabor Szabo was briefly under contract to Atlantic Records in the late seventies (Femme Fatale was recorded for the label, which opted not to release it), no Szabo listings are included here.

Ruppli, Michel (compiler) with assistance from Bob Porter, The Clef/Verve Labels — A Discography Volume 2: The MGM Era(Greenwood Press). 1986.

Ruppli, Michel and Ed Novitsky (compilers), The Mercury Labels: A Discography (The 1969-1991 Era and Classical Recordings) — Volume IV(Greenwood Press). 1993.

I love the Ruppli books — especially these and his Blue Note and Prestige books. One gets an excellent sense of each of these labels, and their incredible history just by browsing the pages. Wish there were Ruppli books for Impulse Records and CTI Records too.

Sallis, James (editor), The Guitar in Jazz: An Anthology(University of Nebraska Press). 1996.

Gabor Szabo is referenced twice in an older essay included here by Leonard Feather, entitled “The Guitar in Jazz” (pp. 1-11). Szabo references appear on pages 8 and 10.

Shadwick, Keith (editor), Gramophone Jazz Good CD Guide, Second Edition (Gramophone), 1997.

In its second edition, the Grampohone people grudgingly included a review of Gabor Szabo’s The Sorcerer in this slim volume of elite jazz recommendations. The British editors wax poetic on Szabo’s playing, “a peculiar drone-like style and gipsy-like inflections,” and the disc’s music: “the band coalesces quite successfully and from time to time escapes its contemporary references.”

Simon, Géza Gábor, The Book of Hungarian Jazz (Hotelinfo, Ltd.). 1992. 

Simon, Géza Gábor, Hungarian Jazz Discography 1905-1994 (Foundation for Jazz Education and Research in Hungary). 1994. 

Simon, Géza Gábor: Hungarian Jazz Discography 1905-2000 (Foundation for Jazz Education and Research in Hungary). November 2005.

Simon, Geza Gabor: Hungarian Jazz Records 1912-1984 (KISZ Baranya megyei Bizottsaga – Baranya Megyei Muvelodesi Központ). 1985.

Simon, Geza Gabor: Magyar Jazztörténet [Hungarian Jazz History] (Magyar Jazzkutatatasi Tarsasag [Hungarian Society for Jazz Research]), October 1999. 

Simon, Geza Gabor (ed.): Fejezetek a magyar jazz tortenetebol 1961-ig [Chapters from the History of the Hungarian Jazz to 1961] (Magyar Jazzkutatatasi Tarsasag [Hungarian Society for Jazz Research]). 2001.

Simon, Geza Gabor: Mindhalalig Gitar [Guitar Forever] (Jazz Oktatasi es Kutatasi Alapitvany [Foundation for Jazz Education and Research in Hungary]). 2002. 

Simon, Geza Gabor: Immens Gut [Forever] (Jazz Oktatasi es Kutatasi Alapitvany Foundation for Jazz Education and Research in Hungary]). 2003.

Stax, Mike, Swim Through The Darkness: My Search For Craig Smith And The Mystery Of Maitreya Kall (Process Media). 2016.

Mike Stax, publisher and editor of Ugly Things magazine, tells the strange but tragic story of the handsome singer/songwriter and actor Craig Smith. One of the Good Time Singers on The Andy Williams Show, Smith would go on to become a solo performer and songwriter. Smith wrote songs performed and recorded by Williams, Glen Campbell and The Monkees. He was familiar with many in the L.A. music scene, like the Beach Boys and Gabor Szabo. Indeed, Smith met Szabo and the two became friends (p. 72-73). Smith would claim Szabo (among others) as an influence and offered the guitarist some of his music. Szabo declined. It’s not clear whether the two ever performed together, but it’s possible. After a trip to Asia in the late sixties, Smith came back a changed man. He was now calling himself Maitreya Kall and alienated his entire family and old friends and living a rather nomadic life. Two of Maitreya Kall’s self-produced albums – Apache (1971) and Inca (1972) – contain several cryptic references to Gabor Szabo. A truly compelling story beautifully told here.

Stewart, Chuck, Chuck Stewart’s Jazz Files (Da Capo Press). 1985.

Chuck Stewart, photographer at the Jazz Raga sessions, includes a photo of Gabor on page 45 in his expectedly beautiful collection of jazz photography. Another Stewart photo from these sessions is also used in Wayne Entice and Paul Rubin’s book, Jazz Spoken Here.

Sugarman, Danny, Wonderland Avenue (William Morrow and Company, Inc.). 1989.

Sugarman got a job in his teens working for the rock band The Doors. After leader Jim Morrison’s death, he went on to manage several other rockers, including Iggy Pop. Here, the author of the best-selling No One Gets Out Of Here Alive chronicles a druggy, know-it-all tale “of glamour and excess.” At one point, Sugarman discusses watching Gabor Szabo do heroin some place “because he had to hide his habit from his wife” (pp. 292-293). The reader follows along in “addict time” but the chronology of the book locates this event circa 1973. According to Sugarman, Szabo shoots up (rather too graphically), then mumbles a meaninglessness stew of nonsense that has something to do with jazz, dope and coleslaw. Eventually, the guitarist just dozes off in mid-sentence. Interesting, as drug tales go. (Special thanks to Steve Brown for this addition).

Summerfeld, Maurice J. The Jazz Guitar: Its Evolution, Its Players and Personalities Since 1900 (Ashley Mark Publishing Co.), 3rd Edition, 1993.

Here, a full page is devoted – as it is to a variety of jazz guitarists throughout history – to Gabor Szabo. With a good sense of his musical style, the listing identifies Szabo’s preferred axe (a Martin), provides additional reading sources and recommends several albums.

Summers, Andy: One Train Later (Thomas Dunne Books), 2006.

Police guitarist Andy Summers issued his biography shortly before the group’s somewhat triumphant reunion tour in 2007. Discussing his influences, on page 68, Summers says, “(a)s well as jazz, I’m pulled toward another sound that’s more esoteric. Indian music, the old playing of Hamza el Din, the East European flavor of Gábor Szabó; these sounds catch my ear and I start to experiment with weird open voicings on the guitar that I cannot put a name to.” Xavier Corbala, a visitor to this site and the one who made me aware of this reference says that Summers “is very respectful of most jazz guitarists (Tal Farlow, Kenny Burrell, Lenny Breau, Wes Montgomery, etc.) even though his music is not purely jazz, and has very little good to say about most “rock” and “metal” guitarists, considering them poorly trained in theory, harmonics and technique, and thus not having the skills necessary to fully develop as artists.

Tanner, Lee, Images of Jazz (Friedman/Fairfax). 1996.

Tanner’s memorable and historic photography includes a montage of Gabor Szabo performing with Sadao Watanabe and Chico Hamilton in 1965 for Boston’s WGBH-TV (p. 99). The photo of Szabo performing at the Jazz Workshop in 1967 (p. 100) is also part of the packaging of The Sorcerer, the recording of that concert.

Vale, V. and Andrea Juno (editors), RE/Search #14: Incredibly Strange Music Volume I (RE/Search Publications), 1993.

A series of interviews and recollections about out-of-the-ordinary music, Incredibly Strange Music includes an interview with Amok Books (bookstore and publishers located in Los Angeles, California) founders Stuart Swezey and Brian King (pp 164-187). Discussing their interest in “unusual records,” the pair briefly discusses the infusion of raga with other music forms in the 60s: “Jazz guys were always a little bit late picking up on the raga rock fad. GABOR SZABO recorded some jazz-raga records, including Jazz Raga.” This is the book’s only reference to Szabo (page 176).