Live at Donte’s (1976)
Gabor Szabo Quartet

  1. It Happens (Tony Dumas)
  2. Here’s That Rainy Day (J. Burke/J. Van Heusen)
  3. Little Boat (Kaye/Menescal/Boscoli)
  4. (unknown title)
  5. Alicia [a.k.a. Time] (Gabor Szabo)
  6. Concorde (Nightflight) (Ritchie Rome/Gabor Szabo)
  7. Comin’ Back (C. Otis/G. Szabo)

Gabor Szabo – guitar
Joanne Grauer – piano (2-4, 6, 7), electric piano (1,5)
Tony Dumas – bass
Sherman Ferguson – drums  

Recorded live at Donte’s, North Hollywood, California on October 30, 1976

Note: Szabo was appearing at Donte’s Friday, October 29 and Saturday, October 30, 1976. At one point during this performance, he wishes drummer Sherman Ferguson a happy birthday. Mr. Ferguson’s birthday is October 31. Presumably, this performance is from the night before Mr. Ferguson’s birthday.

(private tape)

The distracted patrons act indifferently to Szabo’s solo introduction (admittedly, a bit of noodling), but instantly yield to the funk of Tony Dumas’ Szaboesque “It Happens.” This is one tune the guitarist should have recorded. It burns with the gypsy intensity he patented and simmers with a dark, rolling rhythm that keeps him interested and interesting.

Joanne Grauer is then featured in a lovely version of “Here’s That Rainy Day.” Here, Szabo almost seems like the guest of honor. It is very much Grauer’s show at this point and she delivers a touching rendition of the popular ballad.

A swinging bossa nova follows, fueled by Ferguson (a drummer who knows how to make a samba exciting). Szabo is positively inspired; providing fiery liquid runs and, in a mid-section solo, generating playful chordal flurries. “Little Boat” is a showstopper and a marvelous way to conclude a brief, but exciting set.

The next set finds Szabo and company in a more melodic mood. The remaining numbers, particularly “Alicia” and “Concorde,” suffering overproduction in the recording studio, have a welcome air of intimacy here. The empathic rhythm section is a considerable asset.

Szabo’s personality seemed to come out and play here; so often entrapped by fussy arrangements on record. “Concorde,” especially, has a warmth (and significance) in performance that is completely absent on Nightflight.

Here, it sounds very much at home with Gabor Szabo’s lineage of utterly personal creations (“Lady Gabor,” “Spellbinder,” “Gypsy Queen,” “Galatea’s Guitar” and “Mizrab”). Credit is due to the propulsive and rousing abilities of Grauer (a real find — who, as “Joanne Growler” recorded in 1969 with Stanley Turrentine and several years later issued a record under her own name featuring Lorraine Feather), Dumas and Ferguson.

But Szabo earns kudos for surrounding himself with talent this substantial and worthy of his infectious abilities.