Mátyás Szandai Quartet feat. Nelson Veras, Ricardo Izquierdo, Fabrice Moreau Sādhana
SĀDHANA – this is the title of Mátyás Szandai’s first album of his own compositions. Taken literally, its meaning is: sa = infinite, dha = meditate, na = negation, death. In other words, in meditation the ego dies.
It sounds dramatic, but this Sanskrit expression means no more than that whatever action we perform, be it celebrating mass or hoeing the earth, if we do it with a spiritual tendency, it will bring us closer to our goal, which ultimately is to be at home in our own selves...
Mátyás Szandai – double bass
Nelson Veras – guitar
Ricardo Izquierdo – saxophone
Fabrice Moreau – drums
Musicians on ‟Le Frontalier”:
Frederik Camacho - violin, Valentin Chiapello - viola, Lucie Gockel - cello,
Artur Tanguy - flute, Alexis Bazelaire - oboe, Paul Marsigny - clarinet, Mátyás Szandai - conductor
About the album
All compositions by Mátyás Szandai, except track 7 by Tom McClung and track 12 by Warne Marsh
Recorded by Viktor Szabó at BMC Studio on 14-16 July, 2018
Track 1 recorded by Philippe Weiss at BCV Concert Hall, Lausanne on 1 February, 2018
Mixed and mastered by Viktor Szabó
Artwork: László Huszár / Greenroom
Produced by László Gőz
Label manager: Tamás Bognár
Friedrich Kunzmann - All About Jazz **** (en)
Nicolas Dourlhès - Citizen Jazz (fr)
Franck Bergerot - Jazz Magazine **** (fr)
Wolfgang Giese - musikansich.de (de)
Z. K. Slabý - His Voice (cz)
Máté J. György - Gramofon **** (hu)
Olasz Sándor - Riff.hu (hu)
Dr. Nagy Sándor - Jazzma.hu (hu)
Szabó Károly - hangzasvilag.hu (hu)
Gulyás István - kultura.hu (hu)
Komlós József JR - Alföldi Régió Magazin (hu)
Mátyás Szandai Quartet feat. Nelson Veras, Ricardo Izquierdo, Fabrice Moreau: Sādhana
The album is available in digital form at our retail partners
(find French translation below)
It sounds dramatic, but this Sanskrit expression means no more than that whatever action we perform, be it celebrating mass or hoeing the earth, if we do it with a spiritual tendency, it will bring us closer to our goal, which ultimately is to be at home in our own selves. But this home needs sound foundations. Mátyás Szandai knows this, and while he scans the skies, he also takes note of what is on earth, in the material world. He digs deep to lay down his compositional and conducting foundations.
He researches primarily in himself. As a contrabassist, by virtue of his instrument he has long had both feet on the ground, and this groove-orientation is just as evident in this composer’s CD. As is the fact that in his career to date he has, to coin a phrase, laid the foundation for a great many varied first-class musical constructions, and Mátyás Szandai himself is of course also imbued with these influences. As regards Hungarians, suffice to mention the names of Elemér Balázs Group, the Viktor Tóth Trió, or the Dresch Quartet. While recording with the latter legendary formation the album Hungarian bebop, he met Archie Shepp, who as former close personal friend to John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, was like a postman bringing messages from the apostles of jazz, messages which Szandai could then take from his very hands. On the day he first rang the bell of the Paris apartment of the saxophone legend, he soon found himself in a jam session among the cream of the French jazz scene. Since then he has gained permanent partners in music, not just Archie, but musicians like David Murray, Herbie Mann, Chico Freeman, Hamid Drake, William Parker, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Gerard Presencer, Chris Potter, Zbigniew Namislovsky, and many world-class musicians. On this disc the listener is only intermittently brushed by the wind of these influences. Over the years Mátyás Szandai has distilled a kind of musical essence from these inspirations, and now offers them to us in concentrated drops.
He was self-admittedly admitted he was guided by a similar principle when composing, trying to condense the essence into a theme, a melody of a few notes, like a kernel. Then afterwards it can develop in proliferating vines, unexpected abstractions, during the musicians’ improvisations. One more thing is necessary for life: air, which he provides to his fellow musicians by virtue of his experiences as a sideman, which taught him how inspiring it is if there is room in music for self-expression. So he gives few instructions, and leaves the rest in the notes, implanting them into his fellow musicians. This gives birth to fascinating things, for in this line-up the striking musical personalities come from different musical cultures, and what is more they all draw on several different sources. The guitarist Nelson Veras is of Brazilian origin, and Pat Metheny discovered him when he was a child prodigy. The tenor saxophonist Ricardo Izquierdo was born in Cuba, and is known mainly for trying stubbornly to renew his improvisation technique at every moment. The drummer Fabrice Moreau is French: he first tried to depict moods in paint and only later came to sound, where his self-taught musicianship led to an instinctiveness convincing for both big-name musicians and the audience too. The “branches” of these four musicians intertwined in the dense forest of the Paris jazz scene.
Perhaps this dense forest was what prompted Mátyás Szandai to begin to spread not just horizontally but vertically too, to seek inspiration. Although he had already been interested in Hungarian musical tradition, in Paris he began to feel a strong pull towards creating a disc based on Bartókian folk music. “I’m trying to find out who I am, and part of that is getting to know the music of the culture where I come from. This is an inner drive for me, but when you go abroad everyone is interested in where you come from.
Archie and other older musicians are always asking what Hungarian folk music is like, and they encourage me to work with it,” he said of his disc Bartók Impressions. For instance, Szandai found one of the most earthbound, important pieces of Gyimes folk music, and the blind fiddler János Zerkula, who with his squeaking violin sound was a world-class musician in his own right. In the piece Music from Gyimes there are echoes of the assymmetric, archaic rhythms of the gardon, and the broken triads at the ends of lines, but aside from this, as a whole the piece is much more airy. This too is expressed as a criterion: Mátyás Szandai wants no musical influence to stamp too strong a mark. Thus in the composition Dig the Mud the Hungarian-style mood swerves in the unison passages into a different groove-centred music, the trance-inducing rituals of the Gnawa people from Morocco. At the same time the American jazz tradition is prominent as a strong background to the whole album, quite literally, because it includes a re-imagining of Warne Marsh’s piece Background Music and the number Nine Pines conjures up the harmonic world of Wayne Shorter. And perhaps we can also include here Cassiopeia, in which we witness the hatching of the musical germs of Tom McClung, a good friend of Mátyás Szandai’s, who died two years ago, before he was able to bring his work to fruition.
The compositional discipline and utter freedom is characteristic of the entire album, and this balanced dialectic is upset in only two numbers. In the one called Fearlessness, we hear the rhythmically and harmonically free unfolding of an idea consisting of a couple of notes, and in Le Frontalier we have music which has been entirely notated and is not actually jazz: here a six-piece string and wind ensemble performs Mátyás Szandai’s work. The title of this latter means “border dweller”. Mátyás Szandai has crossed many borders before coming to this disc. Now it is the listeners’ turn to lower their inhibitions, and let this music trickle, flow, and burst through.
Translated by Richard Robinson