Here are most of the known news, interviews and oral-history articles produced on or about Gabor Szabo throughout his career. The concentration of articles seems to endure from the mid-sixties through the early seventies, when the sensationalism around Szabo was clearly waning. Perhaps the most enlightening articles are the two oral histories from 1975 and 1979 in which Szabo himself provides insight about his musical life as his career seemed, ironically, to be winding down.

Down Beat: April 28, 1960, pp. 68-76

“Up Beat” – A transcription of Gabor Szabo’s big-band composition, “Dilemma” (which originally appeared on the Berkeley School of Music release, JAZZ IN THE CLASSROOM VOLUME IV) with individual parts.

Down Beat: August 13, 1964, pp. 14-21

“International Jazz Critics Poll Results” – With 21 votes, Gabor Szabo ties for first place with fellow Hungarian Atilla Zoller in the “Guitar” section of “Talent Deserving Wider Recognition.”

Melody Maker: September 26, 1964, p. 6

“The Group Jazz Fans Can’t Hear” – a feature on the Chico Hamilton quartet while in London accompanying Lena Horne in November 1964. The article polls each group member about the current state of jazz and his feelings about the Hamilton experience. Szabo commented that jazz was enjoying a healthy state, spurred by “a revolution” in which brave warriors, such as Ornette Coleman, were bound to make enemies. “When I was studying at Berklee,” he added in discussing his own role, “I got the feeling I couldn’t play the instrument at all, because I could not use my own things as they didn’t fit any set pattern. When I joined Chico, he helped me immensely to develop my own style. He never forced me in any set way. At all times, he encouraged me to be myself on the instrument.”

Crescendo: November 1964, pp. 24-27

“Disc Discussion” – While in London in 1964, Chico Hamilton & Co. (Chico Hamilton, Gabor Szabo and Albert Stinson – but not reed player Jimmy Woods, who is also pictured on the magazine’s cover) discuss with writer Les Tomkins the positive and negative merits of several songs: “Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West,” Paul Desmond and Friends; “Night Talk,” Directions In Jazz Unit (directed by Bill Le Sage); “Nuttin’ Out Jones,” Elvin Jones/Jimmy Garrison Sextet; “Prelude No. 20 in A Minor,” The Baroque Jazz Ensemble; “Linstead Market,” Ernest Ranglin Trio; and “Thermo,” Freddie Hubbard. 

Down Beat: September 9, 1965

“The Nonanalytical Gabor Szabo” – an interview by Harvey Siders with Gabor Szabo while he was performing with the Gary McFarland Quintet. Szabo again expresses his affinity for Ornette Coleman (an avant-gardist he considers one of “the real ones”) and cites Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall as “(t)he two best players around today.”

Jazz: August 1966

“Gabor Szabo” – Jazz magazine editor Pauline Rivelli interviews Szabo for a cover feature (where Szabo is pictured in front of his favorite New York City venue, Jim & Andy’s – also his friend Gary McFarland’s favorite hangout). The guitarist talks about his days in Hungary, coming to America and how he arrived at the Berklee School. “(U)p to this day,” says Szabo of his choice to attend Berklee, “I know it was the best move I ever made.” He talks about his satisfaction, like Duke Ellington, with recording first takes and how he would rather record anonymous commercial jingles (which he was doing at the time in New York City) than make a bad record date.

Down Beat: December 1, 1966

Bill Cosby/Blindfold Test – Upon hearing Charles Lloyd’s “Goin’ to Memphis” (from OF COURSE, OF COURSE) featuring Gabor Szabo, comedian and jazz fan Bill Cosby commented: “I’m going to just jump out on the limb and say that was that Hungarian guitarist — I can’t pronounce his name — Gzabo or something like that. And that was Charles, Of Course Of Course. That wasn’t the number, but that was Charles Lloyd, because he writes some very . . . well, I dig his humor. Of course, some people would debate that Charles is not one of the greatest soloists . . . I do recognize in Charles’ playing an awful lot of Rollins and Coltrane, but as far as writing goes, I dig the humor that Lloyd lays in there. I’ve heard Lloyd do some very, very beautiful work. Particularly his ballads. I can listen to this kind of thing all day, because it’s like a cooking little thing. The song, like I say, I don’t know, but that’s my man. I give it four stars, because I dig it.”

Down Beat: December 29, 1966

Kenny Burrell/Blindfold Test – Upon hearing Gary McFarland and Gabor Szabo’s “You Will Pay” (from SIMPATICO), guitarist Kenny Burrell states: “No idea who that is. If we’re dealing in the realm of improvisation, which I believe we are, the art of improvisation, no stars. The credit should go elsewhere, I guess, to the basic elements of music such as…Being in tune? No. Ensemble playing? No. I imagine there were two or three guitars. I think I heard one 12-string, and that was pretty sloppy. I guess the vocal group was the best thing on there. The composition? Take it or leave it.”

Down Beat: February 9, 1967

Blindfold Test – Leonard Feather conducts Szabo’s first of four Blindfold Tests. Szabo comments on performances by Count Basie, Don Friedman, Paul Horn, Art Blakey, Jack Marshall/Shelly Manne and Jaki Byard.

Jazz: March 1967

“The Influence of India” – Szabo declares that Indian music captured his fascination and emotional involvement as far back as 1961. In this brief article, which he penned, he elaborates upon his enthusiasm for the music of Ravi Shankar as well as his success imitating the sitar’s sustained-note drone sound on his guitar. In discussing the difficulties of playing a sitar, he even alludes to his unfortunate experiences on the recently recorded JAZZ RAGA; “the instrument I used recently was inferior, with very bad keys, which made it extremely difficult to keep in tune.” The article is illustrated with an ink sketch of an Indian playing a sitar, drawn by Szabo.

Billboard: June 10, 1967

Eliot Tiegle, in his regular jazz column, announces Szabo’s use of controlled feedback, first recorded on the THE SORCERER LP. Szabo told Tiegle, “I feel frustrated that I can’t hold my notes like a trumpet. On a good night I can get two or three notes working at the same time.” Tiegle indicates Szabo probably stumbled onto the sound on his own, elaborating that “(i)n the past, a guitarist hearing a loud blasting cycle tone roaring through his speaker, would have turned his volume down and the audience would have been relieved. Szabo lets these cycle tones come through in an imaginative way, which, in a sense, is a pioneering step in the development of a new form of amplified jazz.”

Down Beat: June 29, 1967

Wes Montgomery/Blindfold Test – Upon hearing Gabor Szabo’s version of “Walk On By” (from GYPSY ’66), guitarist Wes Montgomery comments: “That’s Gabor Gabor . . . Gabor Gabo . . . Gabor Szabo — which one is it? I can tell right away. He’s got a unique style. It’s different . . . Of course, I didn’t think that particular number was too exciting. I’ve heard him a lot more exciting. The rhythm section didn’t have enough bottom in it, and it seemed like there was drive missing. For the soloist, Gabor, I would give him three stars, or maybe 3 1/2, but I would put down two for this particular side. The tune? Yeah! Walk On By.”

Melody Maker: July 1, 1967, p. 10

“Gabor Szabo: A Fresh Guitar Sound from the Hungarian Plains” – Gabor Szabo interviewed by Leonard Feather. Feather, comparing the guitarist to a modern and accessible Django Reinhardt, insists Szabo “has brought to the American jazz world a gust of electrified air more exotic and kinetic than any other flurry in the past decade.” Interestingly, Szabo talks rather poetically here about a brief and initial disillusionment with America. “People behind the Iron curtain have such an incredible image of America and jazz,” Szabo related. “I expected to find a Gerry Mulligan or Miles Davis on every corner. There was more disappointment when we came to San Bernadino, California, where our sponsors lived. The radio had given me the idea that West Coast jazz was the big thing of the day; I almost expected a Shorty Rogers to deliver the milk, a Bud Shank to be the mailman. But by the time I got here, the West Cost was dying, and the important things were happening in New York.”

Down Beat: October 5, 1967 Down Beat: November 30, 1967

“Gabor Szabo: Jazz and the Changing Times” – The banner on the cover of the October 5, 1967, issue of Down Beat read, “Jazz as we’ve known it is dead, says Gabor Szabo.” The interview by Don DeMichael, or the sensationalism of Gabor Szabo’s first and only Down Beat cover feature set off a firestorm of controversy. Despite admitted feelings to call himself a “jazzman” and comments all along to support his contention in regard to his own music (saying in his 9/9/65 Down Beat interview, “I don’t think swing, as we know it now, has a long life. It could last a long time, but it’s not getting anywhere”), the comment disturbs some and attracts the attention of many — even though jazz critics had been waging the “jazz is dead” battle since at least 1965. Two Down Beat readers wrote to express their reactions: one angry (Luciano Rodriguez, 11/2/67) and one accepting of the changing times (Jay Meehan, 11/30/67). References to Szabo’s remark were often repeated by jazz critics over the following year (i.e.: Frank Kofsky’s column, The Scene, in the June 1968 issue of Jazz magazine). An interesting round-table column (“Quotet”) in the November 30, 1967, issue of Down Beat asked several “jazz” people (Willis Conover, Illinois Jacquet, Budd Johnson, Woody Herman, Lalo Schifrin, Earl Hines, Oscar Peterson, James Moody, Ornette Coleman, Dizzy Gillespie and Szabo himself) about their reactions to Szabo’s comment. While expressing little disdain and in some cases no interest, all seemed to disagree that jazz had died.

Jazz & Pop: November 1967

“The Magic of Gabor Szabo” – Editor Pauline Rivelli celebrates Gabor Szabo’s “11th anniversary living in this country” and discusses the guitarist’s high regard for the music and talents of Ravi Shankar. Ms. Rivelli reveals how Szabo had, at that point, begun enhancing his performances with the use of his newly acquired electric sitar in this issue of Jazz and Pop magazine, formerly known as Jazz magazine.

Down Beat: April 4, 1968

Gary Burton and Larry Coryell/Blindfold Test – Upon hearing Steve Allen’s “So Nice,” featuring Gabor Szabo (from SONGS FOR GENTLE PEOPLE), vibist Gary Burton and guitarist Larry Coryell made the following comments. “LC: Well I have no idea who that was. I thought I recognized the guitar player but I’m so unsure it was him. I never would have imagined him playing in that context. Right at the start of his playing it sounded like someone playing on a Martin folk guitar with a DeArmond pickup across the round hole, like Gabor Szabo plays. GB: It didn’t sound like his kind of playing, however, once he got into it. LC: It sounded more like someone who had been influenced by Gabor. He would never play in this context, with strings and piano, just doing a very careful studio bossa nova. GB: He really wasn’t doing very much to judge him by and it would be very difficult to judge anyone’s playing in that kind of a context, from a critical standpoint. For the kind of thing that it was, it was well done, so I give it three stars. LC: I can only give it one.”

Jazz & Pop: June 1968

The Scene By Frank Kofsky: Did Someone Say Jazz Is Dead? – Blaming “the underground press” for announcing the demise of jazz with the emergence of rock, writer Frank Kofsky is pleased to announce that he is, then, a necrophiliac. Mr. Kofsky derives much pleasure from jazz and is especially warmed by a batch of new Impulse releases including Bob Thiele’s LIGHT MY FIRE , John Coltrane’s OM, Pharaoh Sander’s TAUHID and McCoy Tyner’s THE REAL MCCOY. Mr. Kofsky strengthens his resolve by assuring that rock lovers could find much to appreciate here, insisting in his review of LIGHT MY FIRE: “Though jazz may be moribund in the view of the underground sages, this album demonstrates that the distance between ‘dead’ jazz and ‘live’ rock is much less than they would have us believe.” Though Gabor Szabo is mentioned as a contributor to Thiele’s project, Kofsky neither acknowledges or admits knowledge that the guitarist is the sage.

Down Beat: April 3, 1969, and May 1, 1969

Blindfold Test – Leonard Feather conducts Gabor Szabo’s second of four “blindfold tests” for Down Beat. The guitarist’s commentary is so extensive the column is continued in a second issue. Szabo’s surprisingly forthright and self-assured comments are reproduced upon hearing performances by Chico Hamilton, Herbie Mann, Tommy Vig, Charles Lloyd, Attila Zoller and Duke Ellington. He mistakes Larry Coryell for Joe Beck in Chico Hamilton’s “Jim-Jeannie,” a performance he calls “disturbing, with a lack of taste.” He goes on to say that he is unable to objectively rate Charles Lloyd’s “European Fantasy” because of the familiarity of his former associate, but gushes praise for the “gorgeous” Duke Ellington performance of “Blood Count.”

Down Beat: April 17, 1969, pp 14-15

“Szabo Has Close Call: Assaulted in ‘Frisco” – Down Beat reported that Szabo was beaten, stabbed and robbed of $300.00 by three men as he was walking to his hotel after performing at San Francisco’s El Matador club during the early morning hours of February 4. Despite being stabbed repeatedly in the chest, Szabo was treated for wounds and resumed work the following night at the El Matador. Most likely motivated by something drug-related, the incident forced the guitarist to cancel the remainder of his El Matador concerts. Szabo returned home to Los Angeles, but his group — Francois Vaz (g), Louis Kabok (b) and Al Cecchi (d) — finished out the week’s engagement at El Matador.

Guitar Player: October 1969, p. 10

“Pro’s Reply” – Szabo responds to several queries in a column called “Pro’s Reply” in the October 1969 issue of Guitar Player magazine. Explaining how and why he can get a sitar sound from his guitar, he credits the influence of Ravi Shankar and indicates that he picks the strings hard. “But I let the pick kind of slide on the strings and that gets the metallic sound,” Szabo indicates. “The left hand has to be firm and you have to press quite hard on the strings so that there will be no buzz , keeping the sound clean. I use an acoustic guitar with flat-wound, medium-gauge strings whenever I use the sitar effect.” Szabo concludes by saying “the technique is always secondary and the feeling is always first.” The one-page article is accompanied by a photo a Szabo playing his guitar in a scene from the Lena Horne television special he had recently filmed.

Guitar Player: December 1969, pp 22-23 and pp 48-49

“Szabo!” – In an excellent interview with Lee Williams, Gabor Szabo reveals that he had recently started playing an Ovation guitar “like Glen Campbell plays” for the “bigger sound” it offered. Szabo added “the notes last longer. It has better sustaining power, and it has such a mellow tone.” Szabo also discusses here his preference for the DeArmond Pickup, Model 210 and Flatwound Gibson Medium Gauge strings. Williams manages to get Szabo to reveal much about his musical identity here and concludes with the guitarist saying that “(a)s long as you’re honest to your instrument and honest to yourself, eventually if you do have it to begin with, it’s going to come out. It’s impossible to hold back a talent.”

Billboard: July 11, 1970

“Szabo Produces LP With Lena Horne; Plays it Cool” – Billboard reports Szabo participated in his first recording with Lena Horne and his last for his own Skye label. Curiously, the article says “he is no longer associated with Skye (in which he was part owner)” yet never provides his reasons. While the article does announce the recording of his first Blue Thumb album, the reported “offers from other female vocalists to work on their LPs” evidently never resulted in any released recordings.

Down Beat: August 1970

“Gabor Gets Thumbed!” – Down Beat announced Szabo’s signing with Blue Thumb Records where he was due to work with producer Tommy LiPuma. The article also announced Szabo’s new working group with Richard Thompson (key), Wolfgang Melz (el-b), Jim Keltner (d), Lynn Blessing (vib) and Hal Gordon (per) which debuted June 9 at Shelly’s Manne-Hole in Los Angeles. A 6/20/70 performance review in Billboard indicated the sextet performed “Sombrero Sam,” “Stormy,” “Something,” “Your Honey,” “Nowhere Man” and “Comin’ Back.” The article spells Szabo’s name “Garbor” twice after listing it correctly three times.

Down Beat: January 7, 1971

Blindfold Test – Conducting Szabo’s third of four blindfold tests, Leonard Feather indicates with a certain distaste in his preface that Szabo’s group had begun to lean “in a commercialized direction and produced one very disappointing album (MAGICAL CONNECTION).” Szabo comments here on performances by B.B. King, Paul Desmond, John McLaughlin, Jimmy Smith, Pisano/Ruff and Kenny Burrell. After hearing Smith’s version of “My Romance” Szabo asks for “another vermouth cassis,” calling the piece “pleasant music for the cocktail hour.”

Guitar Player: February 1971

On Picks – Szabo is one of the plecterists featured in a column “On Picks” in the February 1971 issue of Guitar Player. Indicating that he anchors parts of his hand on the guitar while picking, Szabo explains:

“Three fingers (thumb and index finger excepted) rest on the pick guard, when playing single string things. When I am playing chords, I have my elbow rest on the edge of the instrument.” When asked how he holds the pick, Gabor replied, “I hold the pick with my thumb and index finger while the other three fingers rest stiff on the shield below the strings.” As far as picking action, he said, “It results from the movement of my thumb and index finger. The rest of the fingers, wrist and arm remain quite stiff, except when playing chords.” He explains, “Picking single notes from the arm or wrist does not allow enough range for dynamics or interpretation of the melody.” About picks, he said, “I have the hardest time finding picks with the right thickness. For my sound, I need a thickness somewhere between medium and hard.” Gabor then commented on his picking angle by saying, ” I keep my pick moving around between my fingers. For single string picking, I use the sharp edge of the pick and for chords I move to the round or dull part of the pick.” Gabor sometimes uses all downstrokes and sometimes up-and-down, saying that it varies from song to song. (courtesy of Guitar Player magazine).

Acknowledging his unorthodox pick style, Szabo said to Lee Michaels in an earlier Guitar Player interview that he had no idea to hold a pick. “I wanted to sound like Johnny Smith (and) I just had to do it the best way that I could,” Szabo stated. “Now I realize the way I’m holding the pick is ridiculous when I look at other guitar players. It happens to work for me.”

Down Beat: June 8, 1972

“THE PLECTRUM SPECTRUM” – Kenny Burrell, John Collins, Joe Pass and Gabor Szabo Talk to Harvey Siders” — Harvey Siders conducts a round-table discussion among the four guitarists inviting them to his rectangular dining room table for “coffee and goodies and rap about the instrument that makes them solo brothers.” While the discussion occasionally hints at guitar artistry and guitarists, it is mostly a friendly semantics debate about musical labels. Here Szabo refers to his music as “contemporary” — neither rock nor jazz. Burrell refers to Szabo as “one of the outstanding guitarists in twentieth century improvisational music” and coins the label “Szabor” to describe his music.

The Seattle Flag: June 1972

“Szabo: Chromosomal Guitar” – Robin Talbot White interviews Gabor Szabo during his June 1972 appearances at Seattle’s Fresh Air and Walrus clubs. After chronicling an amusing episode with the guitarist’s horny manager, Ms. White elicits some of Szabo’s more revealing insights. “Gabor loathes the snobbery of jazz,” writes Ms. Talbot. Szabo explains, “Many jazz musicians affect a misunderstood-genius air when they play, which alienates the audience and breaks down the communications of the music. A musician’s responsibility is to get as much of his art across as possible. Musicians used to be kept when only the rich could afford art, but now practically everyone can afford radios, stereo equipment, concert tickets, etc. A musician must learn to communicate to survive.” Ms. White asks the guitarist about his interest in the sitar and he elaborates “(t)o play the sitar well you really should spend years living with a master of the instrument. George Harrison is, in my opinion, the only Western musician who has learned to play the sitar simply and sincerely.” Szabo notes with pride how his record DREAMS achieved a blending of his interests in Eastern and Western music; and, having reached it’s epitome there, he strives to create a musical mosaic — one, he adds, now influenced by the “spirit of rock.”

Melody Maker: November 23, 1974, p 20

“Szabo forms new orchestra” – Melody Maker reported on November 23, 1974, that Szabo was forming a new “orchestra” featuring current associates performing with him at Donte’s club — Richard Thompson (p), John Smith (b) and Bobby Morin (d) — as well as three members of his former groups — Louis Kabok (d), Jimmy Stewart (g) and Mayuto [Mailto Correa] (per). This group came to be known as the Perfect Circle in honor of what Szabo considered the evolution in his music. In the Guitar Player article listed below, Szabo declared that his Hungarian trip “renewed my awareness of my Hungarian Gypsy heritage.” As a result, “I want to merge elements of both my acoustic and electric styles with a return to my musical roots.” Reportedly, the group’s style ranged from light classical touches to blatantly heavy rock. Since Leonard Feather’s Encyclopedia of Jazz in the 70s lists the Perfect Circle among Szabo’s accomplishments, it was often mentioned in later literature featuring Szabo (especially various obituaries). But with the exception of several performances, the Perfect Circle was a short-lived, unsuccessful union. “It was never really a happy marriage,” remembers keyboardist Richard Thompson. “It was one of those things that sounded like a good idea on paper and in practice it never really did crystallize the way (Gabor) wanted it to. It just never got off the ground.” Subsequently, the Perfect Circle yielded no recordings either.

Los Angeles Times: December 1, 1974

“Hungary Updates Jam Session” – Leonard Feather interviews Gabor Szabo following his return from his first visit to his Hungarian homeland in 18 years. Several years after amnesty was offered to those, like Szabo, who fled the country during Hungary’s Communist uprising, Szabo indicates “(i)t was a strange feeling going back under such radically different conditions. During the first two or three weeks of my visit so many memories came back that it was hard to adjust. Seeing police on the street, I would feel very guilty and look around. I even had nightmares that I couldn’t get out of the country.” This initial reaction wore off with aunts and uncles re-acquainting Szabo with his old home. He was invited to the Conservatory of Music for a round-table discussion. He discussed how musicians were now encouraged to study both classical and jazz. But musical graduates were forced to pursue either classical (as a performer) or jazz music (as a teacher) only. The high point of Szabo’s trip was the television program built around him. “It was weird; we made two versions, one in Hungarian and one in English. The title of the program was ‘Gabor Szabo (USA) Jazz Podium,’ and it was the first jazz show in Hungarian television history.”

Down Beat: February 13, 1975

Blindfold Test – Leonard Feather conducts Szabo’s fourth and final blindfold test in the February 13, 1975, issue of Down Beat. Szabo comments on performances by George Benson (in whom he recognizes the sound of his “present landlord, Creed Taylor”), George Barnes/Bucky Pizzarelli, Chuck Wayne, Alice Coltrane/Carlos Santana, Pat Martino, Barney Kessel and Mundell Lowe.

Guitar Player: July 1975

“Gabor Szabo’s First Visit Home: Jazz Guitar in Hungary — By Gabor Szabo as told to Frankie Nemko” – In the first of two known “oral history” articles published on or by Gabor Szabo, the guitarist details his first return to his homeland since the Communist uprising forced him away in 1956. Nemko’s introductory commentary indicates that Szabo made the two-and-a-half month trip in 1974 with his wife, Alicia, and their son, Blaise. Initially confronted upon his return with border patrols and machine guns which, haunted the guitarist for weeks, the guitarist was happily reunited with family and friends. Szabo marvelled at how little had changed among the “old people” yet the new people he met were very accustomed to American music, jazz and very much into current American lifestyles such as jeans and long hair. While there, he endeavors to sit in with a number of local groups and is filmed for a television special (the first in Hungary devoted exclusively to jazz) accompanied by an impressive cast of Hungarian musicians including bassist Aladair Pege. He discusses musical life in Hungary and is honored to be invited to a roundtable discussion with students at the Conservatory of Music in Budapest. Szabo expresses disappointment at the few jazz guitarists he met while in Hungary but is encouraged by the emergence of rock in Hungary and the success of a band called Locomotive GT (which, coincidentally recorded for Four Leaf Clover Records, the label which released Szabo’s two Sediwsh recordings). “Musically,” the guitarist concludes, “the trip has renewed my awareness of my Hungarian Gypsy heritage. I want to merge elements of both my acoustic and electric styles with a return to my musical roots. I recently completed a jazz album for CTI which includes the ‘Hungarian Rhapsody.’ My journey to Hungary has inspired me with new ideas about how to use my first musical influences — I feel that I’ve come full circle!” Szabo would return again to Hungary in 1978 (performing again for Hungarian television) and one last time in 1981.

BBC Radio: c. July 1979

While in Britain to perform with the George Wein All Stars at London’s Alexandra Place, Szabo is interviewed in English by Brian Matthew for “Matthew on Music,” a BBC Radio program. The guitarist discusses his early days in Hungary, starting out in Chico Hamilton’s band, working with Charles Lloyd and the difficulties in crossing over in jazz. He also participates in a Hungarian language interview for the BBC in which he elaborates on his participation in the “jam session” of the George Wein All Stars, his group, the Perfect Circle, and the influence of Ravi Shankar, fusion music (Herbie Hancock, Weather Report and Chick Corea) and avant-garde jazz (Ornette Coleman). The English language version features Szabo playing “Caravan” (from JAZZ RAGA), “Gypsy Queen” (from SPELLBINDER), “Child’s Play” (from MAN FROM TWO WORLDS), “The Things We Did Last Summer” (from OF COURSE, OF COURSE) and “Every Minute Counts” (from NIGHTFLIGHT). The Hungarian version features “Spellbinder” (from SPELLBINDER) and “Every Minute Counts” (from NIGHTFLIGHT).

Crescendo: November 1979, pp 2-21 and p 29

“I found the value of being myself says Gabor Szabo” – Szabo provides an enlightening oral history of his career in this issue of the British jazz publication, Crescendo. The guitarist surveys his career with pride yet, oddly, senses the slight history will serve him. More significantly, while these are Szabo’s last published comments (printed more than two years before his death), there is a feeling of finality in much of what Szabo says. “I’m saying this with the greatest confidence,” said Szabo, “that I never really sacrificed any of my artistic or aesthetic values. It’s just that sometimes I might not fit the definition that certain critics, or some colleagues even, use, as to what is or isn’t jazz.” He further elaborates that “(y)ou will never find me doing anything distasteful, but let’s face it, it’s 1979; you cannot ignore totally the sounds around you, the pulse of life that’s going on today. The artist’s duty is to reflect the times, to react to them, and to communicate it to the people. Through that communication, you can pass all the beauty of music.”

Down Beat: May 1980

NEWS: “Szabo Sues Scientology” – Breaking three years of what must have appeared to be some sort of self-imposed silence, Gabor Szabo’s name appeared again in the American jazz press for his $21 million suit against L. Ron Hubbard’s Church of Scientology and Vanguard Artists International. Filed on February 5, 1980, Szabo’s suit charged the church and Vanguard with misappropriation of funds, miscalculation of fees, financial coercing and failure to pay Szabo’s taxes. The guitarist joined L. Ron Hubbard’s Church of Scientology in early 1978, organizing charity concerts for Narconon, a rehabilitation division of Scientology. Narconon was clearly what brought Szabo, a heroin addict for more than a decade, to the church. On November 17, 1978, he signed with Vanguard Artists International, a management agency reputedly affiliated with the church and directed by the popular jazz keyboardist and prominent Scientologist Chick Corea. Szabo soon became disillusioned and clearly felt betrayed. He told friends, “they’re turning me into a zombie.” He filed the multi-million dollar suit against the church and Vanguard (on behalf of himself and others, some reports have indicated) on February 5, 1980, but the suit failed to survive arbitration and was dropped early the following year.

Variety: August 6, 1980

“Gabor Szabo Suing Scientology Church” – The guitarist is reported to have filed suit in Los Angles Superior Court against the Church of Scientology in a bid to recover $20,000 of donations he made while taking part in the church’s Narconon program for heroin addiction. Szabo claims in the suit (which contradicts amounts reported in an earlier Down Beat article), he claims he was induced to join the church and enlist the services of Artists International. Szabo alleges in the article that Artist International’s “inept and unprofessional management” caused his career to suffer. The article indicates an August 12, 1980, hearing date.

Down Beat: September 1982

FINAL BAR: Szabo Salute – Donte’s, a club in Hollywood where Szabo was a regular performer and habitu‚, staged a salute to Szabo in August 1982. Club owner, Carey Leverette, recruited guitarist Jimmy Stewart to assemble a band of musicians who had worked with Szabo. The band included Richard Thompson and David Benoit (key), Louis Kabok (b), Bobby Morin (d), and Jerry Steinholz (per). Performances included songs affiliated with Szabo’s career such as “Mizrab,” “Spellbinder,” “Breezin’,” “Gypsy 66” and “A Thousand Times” from his last released album. Other guests during the evening included a guitar duo of John Pisano and Oscar Castro-Neves; vibraphonist Dave Pike; drummer Dick Berk; reedman Joe Farrell and guitarist Al Viola.

Spin; August 1996, pp 54-58.

“After the gold rush” – an interview with alternative-pop artist, Beck, by Eric Weisbard: “Here’s Beck explaining Gabor Szabo, the eccentric whose records feature Bernard “Pretty Purdie, a drummer sampled on his new album Odelay: ‘He’s a freaky jazz-guitar guy from the ’60s. Kind of corny psychedelic. Like there’s one album called Jazz Raga. Basically, he cut a record, then the next day he was in a shop and he bought a sitar. So he got all excited and just went and played sitar over everything. And he didn’t know how to play the sitar. The song starts out, doo-doo-doo-diddle kind of jazzy-guitar stuff, but then all of a sudden the sitar goes wah wah! It just sounds so fucked-up and good.’

“Now here’s Mike Simpson, who along with fellow Dust Brother John King produced Odelay, explaining Beck. ‘You toss an idea his way, and instead of immediately rejecting it, he’ll turn it into something fantastic. He looked in the Recycler one day, saw a guy in Santa Monica was selling Indian instruments. Two hours later he came back with a sitar and tamboura. He said, ‘The guy tuned it up for me and taught me how. Let’s record something.””

Guitar School; April 1997, pp 16-24

“Viva Santana” – Carlos Santana, citing his blues origins, outlines how the classic “Santana” sound derived from the addition of congas to his band. “As a matter of fact,” says Santana, “Harvey Mandel was the first one to use congas that I can remember. And I liked that concept. I liked it more when I heard Gabor Szabo with congas. We merged congas with the blues, and all of a sudden — we played “Jingo” and people went nuts.”

Gabor Szabo: Iconoclasm (www.dougpayne.com): August 2002

Tom Coster Interview: Keyboardist Tom Coster interviewed by Douglas Payne about the keyboardist’s time in Szabo’s band during 1971-72.

Wax Poetics; #12 Spring 2005, pp. 46-54

The Sorcerers: Jimmy Stewart and the magic of the Gabor Szabo Quintet – Guitarist Jimmy Stewart discusses his years with the Gabor Szabo Quintet, roughly 1967-69, and the recordings the two guitarists made together during this time. As always, Stewart’s recall is amazing, as he accurately recalls people, events, equipment and even guitar patterns that were done four decades earlier with startling detail. Stewart’s love for Gabor Szabo is much in evidence here and, despite his many other successes, takes the greatest pride in his work with Gabor Szabo.

Jazz Times; July 2007; p. 69

“Portraits In String” – A celebration of sorts of Lee Tanner’s photographs of guitarists taken between 1965 and 2002. Most of the photos were taken in the mid 1960s for WGBH-TV. The photos were also previously featured – without credit here – in Lee Tanner’s 1996 book, Images of Jazz. Szabo is pictured here in a trio performance from 1968. Oddly, a cover feature on Carlos Santana and his participation in jazz, included in the same issue of this magazine, never mentions Gabor Szabo or his formerly captured influence over Santana. Apparently, Miles Davis was also introduced to the rock guitarist by Michael Shrieve many years after Santana knew about Miles, his music and his influence. 1974??? I doubt it. 

vány; June 18, 2011

“Santana: Egy szorosabb ölelésre számítsatok” – Guitarist Carlos Santana is inteviewed on the eve of a concert performance in Budapest and reflects that “The very first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Hungary is Gabor Szabo and all the soul and passion he had.” The article (in Hungarian) can be seen here. (Special thanks to Miklós Medvigy.)