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Gabor Szabo
Magyar TV-Film; Budapest, Hungary: c. August 1981
Gabor Szabo (g); Attila Garay (el-p) and Peter Dando (el-b).

a. From A Dream (Neil Larsen)

Issues: None.

Gabor Szabo is interviewed for Hungarian television late in the summer of 1981 and performs this touching, elegiac swan song in a small room with only two other Hungarian musicians. Unfortunately, this became the guitarist's final recorded appearance before his hospitalization in December, and ultimate passing in February 1982. Many of Szabo's American fans have never seen or heard this moody, sensitive performance, which finds the guitarist well-suited in an electric trio. Szabo's amplified guitar blends sweetly and sadly with Garay's Fender Rhodes and Dando's understated electric bass. The tune, "From A Dream" ("Egy Álomban," mistakenly referred to as "In A Dream" during the program), is originally from Neil Larsen's 1978 album, JUNGLE FEVER (Horizon SP733) -- produced by Szabo's Blue Thumb producer, Tommy LiPuma and featuring some of the musicians who performed on Szabo's FEMME FATALE. Larsen's brief, melancholy and Gypsy-like theme sounds as if it was crafted especially for the Hungarian guitarist. The original recording spotlights Larsen's frequent guitarist/partner, Buzzy Feiten, but features some of the keyboard player's less-often heard piano work. Szabo's performance here sounds as if it came straight from his soul, if not his own mind. His amplified acoustic guitar sounds much more metallic than usual. Yet he never digresses from the raw emotion he invested during his very best performances.

Transcript of interview: Translated by Joe Geszler 
(with thanks to Paul Hahn).
(This is Gabor Szabo's last known interview.)

Interviewer: You've made a couple of TV specials now in Hungary. But both times all we could find out about you was that Gabor Szabo came from the U.S. What does Gabor Szabo mean in the U.S.?

Gabor Szabo: To begin with, I will try to combine my answers to these questions. When I first went to the States, my main aim in life was to play jazz as I thought it should be played. But later the whole thing turned around. I got somewhere else. My roots started to show. And the reason I got somewhere in the U.S. was because of my roots, even though I completely changed over to a new type of jazz over there. Out of that I got to be a bit of an exotic type of player and at the same time I managed to get the essentials of a style. They heard something they hadn't heard before, yet I managed to get the basics that they enjoyed.

Interviewer: So you got somewhere in the U.S. because you're Gabor Szabo and here you got somewhere because you're U.S.? [you're admired for being exotic and foreign in both the U.S. and Hungary.]

Gabor Szabo: Yes.

Interviewer: When you were on a panel of judges for a recent jazz competition here, why did it take so long for a decision to be announced?

Gabor Szabo: The way these juries are chosen, everyone has their different tastes and ideas. Everyone looks at music in a different way. There were also some delays caused by technical problems in adding up the scores. We tried to be fair.

Interviewer: How did the decisions of the panel as a whole compare with your personal judgment?

Gabor Szabo: I agreed with the selection of the three finalists. But I wouldn't have put them in the same order.

Interviewer: I understand that you have released a lot of records in the U.S. and that now you will finally be making one here.

Gabor Szabo: Yes, apparently it will happen. The reason I've never made a record here before is mostly because, as you've said, in the States I am exotic and here I am U.S. In the States I have made many records on my own and in the groups of others also. I have become known all over the world. These records have been distributed everywhere and so somehow I was feeling that it's about time I got something going here too. I'm proud of my heritage and roots, yet perhaps here is where I'm least known. So, apparently the record will be produced here but manufactured somewhere else; probably in the States. But everything else will be done in Hungary. So, instead of going from there to here, it will go from here to there.