Viktor Tóth with Hamid Drake, Mátyás Szandai, Ferenc Kovács Tartim
(...) Right from the first moment, when we caught sight of the Tartim Islands, it was clear to everybody that the forthcoming collection field trip would be different from usual. The shores were resplendent in pink and green, the air was humid, yet you could see into the distance, and on the crystal-clear sea lapped waves foaming in green. Swarms of birds with shining bills inscribed mystical signs in the sky, the rays of sunlight whirled in variegated colours, and some of the longer beams sounded a tingling sound as they brushed the sea...
About the album
All compostitons by Viktor Tóth except tracks 10-13 which are collective improvisations
Recorded at Take Five Jazz Club, Budapest, 18-20 September, 2008
Recorded, mixed and mastered by László Válik (L.V. Hang Studio)
Photo: István Huszti
Artwork & design: Bachman
Produced by László Gőz
Label manager: Tamás Bognár
The recording was supported by the National Cultural Fund of Hungary and the Artisjus Music Foundation
Franpi Barriaux - CitizenJazz (fr)
AAJ Italy staff (Paolo Peviani) - All About Jazz **** (it)
Mischa Andriessen - Jazzenzo (nl)
Végső Zoltán - Élet és Irodalom (hu)
Sinkovics Ferenc - Magyar Hírlap (hu)
Kolozsi László - Revizor (hu)
Szántai Zsolt - Ekultura.hu (hu)
Márton Attila - Magyar Demokrata (hu)
Komlós József Jr. - Kecskenet.hu (hu)
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Viktor Tóth with Hamid Drake, Mátyás Szandai, Ferenc Kovács: Tartim
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Then a small squat bird perched on the bow of our ship, and to the astonishment of our group, spreading his blue and orange wings he launched into a other-worldly song. On his brow was a single indigo eye, and its calming gaze met with everyone’s eyes simultaneously. We had never heard music like this. The melodies flew unfettered through the air, then settled into a spiral and circulated round and round our ship. It was then we realized that instead of lengthy research work, this time the melodies would find their way to us. And yes, later, that is what happened. We transcribed one melody from a steep cliff-face as the surface of an inner lake reflected the light onto it in the shape of written music, or after seeing the design carved into the stone of a tasty fruit, we heard the never-music as an inner voice. None of us had to date taken part in a collection tour where the footprints of the fidgeting of scaly birds would have served as the basis for transcription, or where we could record the yelping-like chords of multi-headed roe deer. (...)
Granted, it may seem a little improbable as regards the origin of the material for this record... But is it any more likely that a lad from Kiskunhalas meets an Afro-American drum guru from Chicago, of American Indian origin, and at his first drum-stroke to know for certain that he is the maestro who up his sleeve has teaching especially for him?
Then they invite a bassist from Balassagyarmat (by some mystical coincidence he and the drummer already know each other), then a trumpet- and violin-playing Kendo master, make friends, a record label champions them and they produce an album. Then they meet every six months, picking up their sentences from where they left off. And the music too.
It’s an implausible story. This same dreamlike quality runs throughout the pieces on the record: the next moment holds the possibility for radical change.
I want to thank my brilliant fellow musicians for exploiting this transforming and renewing energy, and the One who cradles us all in dream.
Translated by Richard Robinson
I feel that every style, be it Western or Indian classical music, jazz, reggae, funk or the variety of folk music we find throughout the world, is just a manifestation of one single essence. A style is only a reflection of the personality of a parti-cular musician or a group that expresses it, but the source is one and the same. Personally I think this is great because it allows me to play with a lot of different great artists from many parts of the world. It becomes an endless learning process for me, and because I’ve been fortunate enough to be immersed in all these different aspects of traditional and contemporary music, it is like a whole universe for me. I feel like a little kid in a candy store.
The lesson I’m continually learning is that it’s very important to keep an open mind. And not only an open mind but also an open heart, because once you start encountering things and cultures that seem somewhat different from your own, you’re confronted with biases and prejudices that you might not have realized existed in you. So you confront those things head on, and you have to make a choice: am I going to let these particular limitations stand in the way of me growing, or will I decide to accept these limitations? But these limitations are not my limits; I can transcend them and come to a deeper understanding not only of myself, but of other people too.
Music has the ability to bring very diverse people together in different ways. They might not be the ways that we expect, because life doesn’t happen like that, it’s mysterious. Life tells us that we’re all in the same ballpark, we’re all in the same field, but our understanding of the game might be a little different.
My involvement in the history of the group started with Mátyás, who was the first one I met at the Mediawave Festival in Győr, when I saw him doing a concert with Mihály Dresch. I was going to play with saxopho-nist Assif Tsahar, and our friend Bigi (Ildikó Nagy) asked if we would like to play with a bass player from Hungary, because it was just the two of us. We agreed, and that’s when I met Mátyás. We played together, and from the first note I knew this was someone, first of all, that I was really going to enjoy playing with, and that we could play together. Secondly, I felt and hoped that we would have not just this one-off gig but that it would be an on-going relationship where we could play more and more together, because the feeling was so beautiful.
I also met Viktor at the Mediawave Festival, we were doing a large band, a group workshop with William Parker. Playing with him, the feeling was very similar: I felt I had met a comrade, a brother and someone who could really do some exploration musically, and also that our relationship would evolve into something else, beyond the music even, into a real friendship.
I met Öcsi (Ferenc Kovács) the same time I met Viktor at the workshop group. I think it’s like the group coming together: you play, and you play, and those sparkles start to come through, and “wow, maybe this might work, maybe that might work”. The group formed, and thanks also to the assistance of BMC Records, we were able to document our relationship and do our first CD, Climbing with mountains. We had something we could see and listen to, and this was further confirmation that yes, we have something special, and we need to keep doing this, keep exploring.
One interesting thing is that there’s an age difference: Viktor and Mátyás are close in age and Öcsi and I are close in age, but the age difference isn’t a barrier to us communicating together or having fun together. In fact, I don’t think about it that much at all really. I come from an African American culture with an American Indian influence too, and my three brothers come from Eastern European, Hungarian culture, which is vastly different. They have an experience that is different, but at the same time an experience that is similar. So we bring all that stuff, all those things which are ourselves into this amazing pot of gumbo, and we stir it up, add spice, and serve it to people. And it seems that most people like the particular recipe we have, they find it nourishing and healthy, and the same time they want more.