Jazz in the Classroom, Vol 4 (1960)
Conducted By Herb Pomeroy

  1. Dilemma (Gabor Szabo)
  2. Three for All (Dick Wright)
  3. Summer Day (Gary McFarland)
  4. Back Bay (Gary McFarland)
  5. A Ballad for Me (Dick Loven)
  6. Blues Before and Because Of (John Cieslak)
  7. By My Side (Gary McFarland)
  8. Pamela (Gary McFarland)
  9. Lonely Horn (Tony Teixeira)
  10. Free Forms (Bob Clear/Ed Armour/Tony Teixeira/Gary McFarland)
  11. New Life (Don French)

Everett, Longstreth, Ed Armour, Paul Kelly, Gerald Lamy, Alan Ware, Jack Weaver – trumpet
Keith Davy, Michael Gibbs, Jack Wertheimer – trombone
Dick Wright – trombone, bass trumpet
Dick Johnson, John Cieslak – alto sax
Ted Casher, Barry Ulman – tenor sax
Bob Seastrom – baritone sax
Gary McFarland – vibes
Bob Clear, Dan Skea – piano
Gabor Szabo – guitar  
Tony Teixeira – bass
Butch Axsmith, Harry Brown – drums

Arranged by Gabor Szabo (1), Dick Wright (2), Gary McFarland (3, 4, 7, 8), Dick Loven (5), John Cieslak (6), Tony Teixeira (9) and Don French (11) and conducted by Herb Pomeroy

Recorded 1959 at the Berklee School of Music, Boston, Massachusetts

1 to 11 issued on LP in 1960 as Berklee BLP-4

Szabo is occasionally heard comping here – so mellifluously, in fact, he sounds like a light-touch pianist – on “Summer Day,” “A Ballad for Me,” “Lonely Horn” and “New Life.” He is also heard quietly comping behind the improvised sections of his own large-scale composition, “Dilemma.” The sprightly number has a bouncy character which illustrates Szabo’s gift for creating the feel of spontaneity. It lopes and leaps with a surprisingly Ellingtonian flair.

Of “Dilemma,” the album’s notes indicate, “(t)hat Hungarian guitarist-arranger, Gabor Szabo has a particular talent for linear writing is evident from this big-band original. By carrying the motivic development through individual horns as well as unison and soli sections, Szabo has managed to create an active and exciting mood.”

Szabo’s transcription of “Dilemma” was included in the Jazz In The Classroom, Vol. 4 Scores [Berklee Press, 1960] and later reprinted in the April 28, 1960, issue of Down Beat, pp. 68-76. 

One longs, though, for the opportunity to have heard Szabo later in his career pick these lines from his own strings accompanied only by his rhythm section. It is also instructive to note that Szabo would rarely place himself in such a large-scale environment again in his career (one occasion with Gary McFarland in 1966 is the sole exception).

The most remarkable aspect of this recording, however, is the first teaming of Szabo with future collaborator and musical comrade, vibist-arranger Gary McFarland. It is evident, even here, that the sensitive and creative McFarland shared a sympathetic musical vision with Szabo’s unabashed romanticism.

While McFarland was a technician who easily veered toward pure sentimentality, Szabo, a classist by comparison, offered a musical edginess and mystery. The two clearly had plenty to offer each other and it’s apparent here that McFarland discovered something in Szabo he was very attracted to — that “simpatico” nature which named a later collaboration of theirs.

“Pamela” is the showpiece here. It is one of McFarland’s lullabies, or at least a study of the lullaby form. There’s evidence, most especially here, that Szabo is reconsidering his sound and approach to his playing. While he still retains the lovely predilection of a Herb Ellis or Barney Kessel, he is beginning to pick at the strings with a strength that gives the music a welcome roughness.

Szabo is, strikingly more relaxed and natural on this occasion, too, than on the previous Berklee recording. Where he seemed to want to fit in before, he aims to assert his uniqueness here as if he is only just discovering it himself. “Pamela” has Szabo playing off McFarland nicely and opens up the spaces for Szabo’s originality. His guitar has a warm single-line mystery cushioned by McFarland’s mood-enhancing vibraphone chording. It is a beautiful performance and, along with the welcome liveliness of “Free Forms” (where Szabo does not perform), it is what is most memorable about this occasion.

The success of “Pamela” confirms Szabo discomfort within large-group settings. Placed in a small-group, as he is here, he thrives. Perhaps he discovered this himself during his stay at Berklee. His challenges were to be found almost exclusively in the interplay with one other prominent sound maker.