Gabor Szabo Quintet (Shelly’s Manne-Hole in Los Angeles; June 9, 1970): Richard Thompson (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Jim Keltner (d); Lynn Blessing (vib); Hal Gordon (per)

DownBeat announced (August 1970) 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 by Eliot Tiegel in Billboard indicated the sextet performed “Sombrero Sam,” “Stormy,” “Something,” “Your Honey,” “Nowhere Man” and “Comin’ Back.” Tiegel seems impressed, stating, “(a) new melodic force has been unearthed in jazz, blending the softness of Gabor Szabo’s amplified guitar, the lilting two mallet patterns of vibist Lynn Blessing and the dramatically strong style of Fender bassist Wolfgang Melz.” Tiegel indicates the quintet – “the most percussive he’s ever had” – had been working together for three months at this point.

Gabor Szabo Quintet (July 1970): Richard Thompson (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Bob Morin (d); Lynn Blessing (vib); Hal Gordon (per).

Gabor Szabo Quartet (October 6-20, 1970): Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); John Rae (vib); John Dentz (d).

Gabor Szabo Sextet (November 1970): Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); John Dentz (d); Lynn Blessing (vib); Felix (Flaco) Falcon (cga); Sandra Crouch (per).

Gabor Szabo Quartet (December 15, 1970): Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Lynn Blessing (vib); John Dentz (d).

A December 15, 1970, performance by a Szabo quartet was reviewed by Eliot Tiegel in the December 26 issue of Billboard. “Sensuous, hypnotic and inventively exciting,” Tiegel writes, “this group marries the best of jazz and pop influences.” The performance, which Tiegel exclaims “built in brilliance and originality,” featured the Melz compositions “Help Me Build A Lifetime” and “Rambler” (a version of which wasn’t released until 1974) as well as “Michael from Mountains,” “Pretty Girl Why,” “My Spanish Heart,” “Sombrero Sam,” “Magical Connection” and “[Love] Theme from Spartacus.”

Gabor Szabo Quintet (March 1971): Bob Harris (p); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); John Dentz (d); Lynn Blessing (vib).

Gabor Szabo (El Matador, San Francisco: August 3-8, 1971): Gabor Szabo (g) with others unknown.

Gabor Szabo with Charles Lloyd (The Troubadour, Hollywood: Prob. ca. early 1972): Charles Lloyd (f); Tony Ortega–3 (f,echoplex); Tommy Eyre (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); John Dentz (d); Mailto Correa [Mayuto] (cga,per): see Gabor Szabo Live.

Gabor Szabo (The Fresh Air, The Walrus; Seattle: late June 1972): Tom Coster (key); Gabor Szabo, Tom Bryant (g); Peter Marshall (b); Mimi Gina (d).

According to Robin Talbot White’s Seattle Flag article, ‘Szabo: Chromosomal Guitar’, “Gabor’s current back up group is a handpicked assembly from the Bay area.” Tom Bryant’s guitar is characterized as “Hendrix-like” and “Tom Coster’s earthy keyboard grounds it all.” The Fresh Air, on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, is described by Ms. White as “a strange place with its cavernous interior” but Szabo’s music made patrons forget their surroundings and move in their seats, stood and danced involuntarily. The Walrus, in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge district, is “a more intimate club that seemed to physically grow as Gabor carried the audience away.”

Gabor Szabo (Stampen; Stockholm, Sweden: August 10, 1972). Jan Allan (t,flhrn); Staffan Abeléen (p); Gabor Szabo (g); Sture Nordin (b); Ronnie Gardiner (d).

Detail from an ad in Expressen, provided by Göran Åkerstedt.

Gabor Szabo Quintet (November-December 1972): Joanne Grauer (p); Gabor Szabo, Jimmy Stewart (g); Louis Kabok (b); John Clauder (d).

Szabo teamed with Jimmy Stewart and Louis Kabok again in late November (though December 3) for an engagement at Howard Rumsey’s Redondo Beach Club as part of the Concerts by the Sea series. Leonard Feather, in his November 25, 1972, Los Angeles Times review, noted the frequency of changes to Szabo’s band (he “consumes combos faster than that other more glamorous Hungarian [Zsa Zsa Gabor] changes husbands”). Szabo, joined here by keyboardist Joanne Grauer and drummer John Clauder, who, according to Feather, “lacked imagination,” played material based on a “currently fashionable, decreasingly tolerable one-chord foundation” (“Pretty Girl Why”) as well as harmonically sophisticated covers of “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “Corcovado.”

Gabor Szabo (March-April 1973)

According to an interview with guitarist Pete Cosey (Guitar Player, July 1990), Miles Davis began a tour with the guitarist that started in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, proceeded to Portland, Oregon, Seattle and “then (we) did some dates along the Southeastern seaboard with Carole King and Gabor Szabo opening up for us.” Certainly, Szabo opened for Davis at Seattle’s Paramount Northwest theater on Thursday, April 5, 1973. The two leaders played Seattle the following night.

Lena Horne (“Flip Wilson” TV Show: 1973): unknown (f); George Wyle (p); unknown (org); Gabor Szabo (g); unknown (b); Lena Horne (vcl) with orchestra.

Ms. Horne performs the lovely “I Got To Have You,” accompanied onstage by Szabo, pianist (and “Flip Wilson” musical director) George Wyle and an unknown bassist.

Gabor Szabo Quartet (El Matador; San Francisco: Summer 1973): Gabor Szabo, Jimmy Stewart (g); Louis Kabok (b); Bob Warren (d).

Briefly re-teaming with former colleagues Jimmy Stewart (g) and Louis Kabok (b), a revitalized Szabo quartet performed several West coast shows during the summer of 1973. Phillip Elwood, jazz critic for the San Francisco Examiner, caught the group (with Bob Warren on drums) during a week-long engagement at San Francisco’s El Matador. Freeing himself of his flirtations with hard rock, Szabo, wrote Elwood, “is playing in a freer, more flowing and more inventive manner than in many of his more recent local dates.” Ellwood went on to say “(t)he 1973 Szabo is a frankly romantic artist. His long, lilting guitar lines – sometimes like a sitar – blend beautifully in melodic themes with Stewart’s guitar…each number included superb duet interplay between the two.”

Gabor Szabo (Lighthouse; Hermosa Beach, California: August 7-26, 1973): Joanne Grauer (8/7-8/12), Richard Thompson (8/14-8/19), Mike Wofford (8/21-8/26) (p); Gabor Szabo (g); Dennis Parker (uncredited b); Bob Morin (uncredited d).

Leonard Feather, in his August 14, 1973, Los Angles Times review (“Eclectic Guitarist at Hermosa Beach Club”), wrote about a show performed by the earliest of three Szabo units presented during this three-week engagement. Featuring Joanne Grower (sic), “the most interesting and creative of these three,” the group played “Magical Connection” and Wolfgang Melz’s “Rambler.” Ms. Grauer was also featured in a solo piano version of Michel Legrand’s “Lady Sings The Blues” (“a work of art more impressive than the original,” according to Feather) and the band played one of her originals, “Frog Child.” Szabo played an unaccompanied version of John Lewis’s “Django” that segued “suddenly” into “Sombrero Sam.” Feather concluded that Szabo “is in a transitional period; no doubt more stable personnel would expedite the arrival at a firmer group sound and style.”

According to Dennis Parker (December 2005): “Bob Morin was the drummer at the Lighthouse (in August of ’73) and I was the electric bassist.”

Gabor Szabo Quartet (Carnegie Hall; New York, New York: September 21, 1973): Mike Wofford (key); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (el-b); Bob Morin (d).

Szabo’s quartet was part of a guitarist’s triple-bill concert. The Friday evening event began with John Fahey’s solo performance, progressed to Laurindo Almeida’s classical/pop/Hollywood fusions and capped with Szabo’s performance. Playing electric guitar, Szabo was accompanied by Mike Wofford (key), Wolfgang Melz (el-b) and Bob Morin (d). John Rockwell, in his September 24 New York Times review, noted that Szabo’s accompanists were “accomplished” and the music the group produced “sounded a bit too smooth and derivative at times.” Yet, he added, “at others it managed to work up to a good bit of virtuosity and excitement.”

The Szabo quartet recorded the album Rambler (1974) during this time e week and closed out their brief East Coast swing at Montclair High School in Montclair, New Jersey, on Friday, September 28 and Saturday, September 29, indicating that .

Gabor Szabo Quintet (January 1974 ??? ): Tony Ortega (f,echoplex); Joanne Grauer (p); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (b); John Dentz (d).

Gabor Szabo Quintet (January 1974 ??? ): Tony Ortega (f, echoplex); George Cables (p); Gabor Szabo (g); Wolfgang Melz (b); John Dentz (d).