Kálmán Oláh, Kristóf Bacsó, Sebastien Boisseau Fitting
It’s hard to find neat definitions for the music on this album. It’s on the borderline where twenty-first-century contemporary chamber music meets jazz. It certainly bears the imprint of some great twentieth-century composers whose music inspired our improvisations. This album differs from my previous experiments because it contains far more spontaneous collective improvisation. But in several movements you’ll find in equal measure composed elements that would pass for what one might call contemporary classical music. I’ve been working on Bartók for 15 years and we have tried to express Bartók’s spirit in several varied settings.
About the album
Composed by Kálmán Oláh (2, 3, 5); Kristóf Bacsó (4, 6) and Sébastien Boisseau (1)
Recorded by István Matók at Studio 22 of the Hungarian Radio, 16-20 September 2005
Mixed by Gilles Olivesi at Tom-Tom Studio, Budapest, April 2006
Mastered by Pierre Vandewaeter, Studio Lakanal, France
Portrait photo: István Huszti
Cover art / Art-Smart by GABMER / Bachman
Produced by László Gőz
Executive producer: Tamás Bognár
The recording was supported by the National Cultural Fund of Hungary and the Artisjus Music Foundation
Julien Gros-Burdet - Citizen Jazz (fr)
Hans-Jürgen von Osterhausen - Jazzpodium (de)
AAJ Italy Staff - Paolo Peviani - All about jazz (it)
Gonçalo Falcão - Jazz.pt (pt)
Zipernovszky Kornél - Gramofon ***** (hu)
Retkes Attila - Medical Tribune (hu)
Galamb Zoltán - Ekultura.hu (hu)
Olasz Sándor - Rockinform (hu)
The album is available in digital form at our retail partners
“It’s hard to find neat definitions for the music on this album. It’s on the borderline where twenty-first-century contemporary chamber music meets jazz. It certainly bears the imprint of some great twentieth-century composers whose music inspired our improvisations.
This album differs from my previous experiments because it contains far more spontaneous collective improvisation. But in several movements you’ll find in equal measure composed elements that would pass for what one might call contemporary classical music.
I’ve been working on Bartók for 15 years and we have tried to express Bartók’s spirit in several varied settings.
There’s always an element of risk in getting musicians together from different countries and somewhat differing musical cultures, but I feel this has proved to be a very lucky combination. With Kristóf I took no chances. I’ve been working with him for some time now, not only in my sextet but also in other formations. I’m very glad that he and I got together on this project too because our musical interests seem to point in the same direction which includes not just jazz but also, for instance, Bartók and modern programme-music. As for Sébastian this is the culmination of a joint album that we’ve been planning for years. He is a tremendously professional musician and that is more than evident on the composed pieces, but he was fantastic when it came to improvisation.
There are compositions from every one of us. Of course we are different characters but in each of these pieces enough freedom was left to express our own personalities, which – in a strange way – gives a sort of unity to the whole album. In fact the way to look at this whole thing is to see it as a conversation. What’s more, the sort of conversation where the participants not only talk but also listen to each other. Our album is not a series of monologues. This is the music of a very good company where everyone hears out everyone else, everyone reflects upon and embellishes what the others have said. For this sort of performance it’s very important to have good personal relations with the other musicians because this is an interplay of equals.
This is neither strictly European nor American jazz. Yet you cannot play this sort of music without a thorough grounding in mainstream jazz, which is, of course, American. We have managed to fuse the European tradition with the spirit and the technique grounded in mainstream American jazz but we didn’t consciously set out to do that. Jazz is in my blood and I cannot get rid of that, nor do I wish to. I want to keep and develop all three facets of my musical persona: the classical, the straight-ahead jazz and the contemporary. At the same time, I don’t want to draw too heavy a line between any of those. For instance, even playing in a jazz club setting, there should be and will be elements in the music that will echo either Bach or Bartók or both. In fact they are not as far from one another as you might think. Listening to either Bartók or Bach, one has the strongest feeling in both cases that their music was improvised at some level. They might have created very precisely composed pieces and yet they have that spirit of freedom which is personally very close to me and very close also to the essence of jazz.”
As told to Péter Pallai
Kálmán Oláh is an internationally renowned jazz pianist, composer, and a teacher of jazz piano at the Ferenc Liszt Music Academy. In his compositions and style of performance he masterfully combines elements of jazz, folk music, and contemporary classical music.
While still a young man he received several awards, and since the age of 18 has won the first prize at many prestigious international competitions. In 2001 he received the Hungarian Jazz Prize from the leading Hungarian jazz and classical music magazine, Gramofon. In 2006 he was awarded the Liszt prize by the Hungarian Ministry of Cultural Heritage.
During his career he has performed with such great artists as Lee Konitz, Randy Brecker, Steve Grossman, Jack DeJohnette, John Patitucci, Tommy Campbell, Ron McClure, Adam Nussbaum, André Ceccarelli, Kenny Wheeler, Palle Danielsson, Ravi Coltrane and Philip Catherine. In 1990 he founded the Trio Midnight (János Egri on bass, Elemér Balázs on drums), then in 1995 the Kálmán Oláh Sextet, which are defining formations of Hungarian jazz life to this day. He regularly features in concert halls outside Hungary and in international festivals, sometimes with his own bands: Marciac (France), Umbria, Siena (Italy), Palatia, Jazz Baltica (Germany), Dinant Jazz Night (Belgium).
As a composer and arranger he has worked on many projects in Hungary and abroad.
He composed his Concerto for Jazz Orchestra, which was well received in professional circles, to a commission from the Budapest Jazz Orchestra, then in 2004 the symphony orchestra transcription of this piece, the Concerto for Symphonic Orchestra and Jazz Band, was premiered by the Miskolc Symphony Orchestra.
To date he has released twelve discs with his bands, and the participation of such renowned artists as Lee Konitz, Tony Lakatos, Adam Nussbaum and Ron McClure. The tracks recorded with Jack DeJohnette and John Patitucci can be heard on the disc Szakcsi Generation 8 trios for 4 pianists (BMC CD 126).
Since 2001 he has recorded four discs with the South Korean Good International Co., working on the realisation of an unusual musical “fusion” with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, a joint interpretation of the Goldberg Variations and improvisations based on the original Bach melodies. On his most recent trio album, Contrasts and Parallels, released by MA Recordings, he contrasts a set of variations on a Hungarian folk song with Bach improvisations.
Kristóf Bacsó was born in 1976 in Budapest, and started studying the saxophone under Dezső “Ablakos” Lakatos and Mihály Borbély in 1989.
He graduated from the jazz department at the Liszt Academy, then continued his studies at the Conservatoire de Paris and the Berklee College of Music in Boston; his teachers included François Jeanneau, Joe Lovano, George Garzone, Hal Crook and Bill Pierce.
He gained the first prize at the talent contest organised by the Hungarian Radio for young saxophonists in 1999.
For five-and-a-half years he lived and worked in France, then the United States, during which he performed in many countries in Europe. He has played in formations of a wide variety of styles from mainstream jazz, to ethno music, to contemporary music, with renowned musicians and bands such as Eddy Henderson, John Patitucci, Nico Morelli, Giovanni Mirabassi, the Budapest Jazz Orchestra, and the international Europlane Orchestra.
He has been working with Gábor Gadó since the end of the 1990s; he participated on the disc Modern dances, and was a soloist on the CDs Agent spirituel and Different garden composed by Gábor Winand and Gadó. He has been playing regularly with Kálmán Oláh since 2004; he participated as a soloist in the piece Concerto for Symphonic Orchestra and Jazz Band, and is a member of the Kálmán Oláh Sextet. He works with the Modern Art Orchestra as a soloist, arranger and composer. He regularly plays with the organist László Fassang, primarily free improvisations.
With the quartet Kristóf Bacsó 4 he performs his own compositions, in which jazz and contemporary music are combined with a central-eastern European spirit. In addition to appearing in many festivals in Hungary, the band has been invited to the Udine Jazz Festival in Italy.
Since 2004 he has been the saxophone teacher and artistic director of the jazz department at the Béni Egressy Music Secondary School.
Sébastien Boisseau was born in Lille (France) in 1974. He grew up in a family setting marked by painting, architecture and music. He started his apprenticeship in the town of Dreux, with his uncle Damien Guffroy, bass player with William Christie, Minkowski and Herwegge. He encountered jazz at the age of 12 through the bands of the music school he attended. In 1991 he entered the national conservatory and the university of musicology at Tours. Also at this time, he met Jean-François Jenny-Clark for the first time, who would remain one of the major influences on the young bass player. In 2000 he became the first bassist to win the first prize for soloists at the prestigious jazz competition of La Défense in Paris.
In 2001, he met Gábor Gadó and Daniel Humair at the same time. From then on, the great Franco-Swiss drummer involved him in many ventures together with Michel Portal, Louis Sclavis, David Friedman, Marc Ducret, Charlie Mariano, Jiri Stivin, Joachim Kühn, Tony Levin, George Garzone, Pino Minafra... but it was at the heart of the Baby Boom quintet (with Donarier, Monniot and Codjia, Baby Boom CD, on the Sketch label), that this powerful and imaginative rhythm was expressed most often, and he even welcomed the guitarist Pat Metheny for an exceptional concert at the Vienna Jazz Festival in 2003.
With Gábor Gadó came the debut of the quartet with Matthieu Donarier and Joe Quitzke (albums: Homeward, Orthodoxia, Unknown Kingdom, Modern Dances, Psyché) and the collaboration with the BMC label. The links with this label are reinforced each year and Sébastien Boisseau can be found in some recordings by Gábor Winand (Corners of my Mind, Opera Budapest), or again in the album Stringed by Alban Darche.
With his French friends Alban Darche and Jean-Louis Pommier he founded YOLK in 1999. In 2005 this collective of improvisers and composers received the Django D’Or for live entertainment, for the development of their own label and their work on different lines, from the sensitising of the young public, to the production of creative projects.
Involved in numerous projects in France (TRIADE, Eric Watson, Stephan Oliva/François Raulin, Le Gros Cube, François Jeanneau Pandemonium, Jean-Marc Foltz trio, Marguet/Kühn quartet) he can also be heard at the heart of the Belgian group Mâäk’s Spirit, in the European Jazz Ensemble, in the Swiss trumpeter Franco Ambrosetti’s European Legacy, or even leading the pan-European quintet UNIT (Blondiau, Gadó, Donarier, Pasborg) with whom he has a new recording for BMC.
This wealth of experience has led him to many festivals and countries in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, Scandanavia and elsewhere.