09 October 2016
Szilárd Mezei Septet Cet Odradek Records ODRCD506 ★★★
Szilárd Mezei (vla), Andrea Berendika (f, af), Bogdan Rankovic (as, bcl), Branislav Aksin (t), Máté Pozsár (p), Ervin Malina (b) and István Csík (d).
Rec. 9-11 January 2015
Szilárd Mezei was born in 1974 in Senta, Serbia, which was then part of Yugoslavia, and where Mezei was a member of the Hungarian minority. He trained in Senta, Subotica and then Belgrade, and is already a veteran of the recording process, having had over 30 discs of his music released. As a composer, Mezei draws deeply on Hungarian folk music, though free jazz, contemporary classical and Béla Bartók also mark his practise; the creative methods of Witold Lutoslawski and Anthony Braxton have likewise been mentioned in connection with him (the title of the second track is represented by a drawing rather than a word). Mezei’s septet are sophisticated but also spirited, angular avant-gardists who revel in odd musical metres that inspire you with madcap Jazz Age ideas such as “I want to dance all night – in the manner of a rhomboid”. Well, that’s what ‘Szil/Elm’ got me thinking anyway. Mezei plays a leading role on viola, described as an instrument of the shadows by György Ligeti; other members of the septet provide more than mere backing, and plenty of light. “The disc represents a collective approach to recording. Everyone had his own role and there were no subordinates,” notes Mezei. Worth discovering.
JazzWise Robert Shore