…one of Gabor Szabo’s finest albums. Standout tracks include los Matadoros, Comin’ Back and Spellbinder. The album was recorded live at the Monterrey Jazz Festival and at the Jazz Workshop in Boston for the Impulse label (Impulse A-9167 for the trainspotters).
Gabor has got to be one of the finest Jazz guitarist of all time. His finger-licking picking is of the highest calibre and references both western Jazz traditions and Eastern paradigms whilst carrying fine expressive interpretation and nuances all his own. This melding of East and West is seen best in Los Matadoros, a track which draws heavily on Moorish influence. Here, his interactions with Jimmy Stewart, also on guitar are sublime – it is as if the two of them have had some Spock-style mind meld, such is the closeness and warmth of their rhythm and counter rhythm, melody and counter melody. It’s Jazz Jim, but not as we know it.
Gabor was born in Hungary, European gateway to the Middle East, and where there was a strong bond with Indian culture. The old spice routes to India came up through Turkey to Hungary and on into central Europe bringing their musical cadence and their tales of the exotic along with their fine spices.
Presumably Gabor fled Hungary to escape mid century European extermism, whether leftist or right wing, and it’s an interesting post script to the second world war and the early 50s that America’s new refugees brought with them new musical visions and excited a bold new world with a vibrancy of expression, the aftershocks of which we still feel today.