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Gábor Gadó

Gábor Gadó

The guitarist presently living in Paris is an outstanding representative of contemporary jazz. Together with Ferenc Schnetberger and Attila Laszlo he founded the Hungarian Guitar Trio. He has performed at the Pori Jazz Festival and has made recordings with the O.M.Band. In his music classical music traditions merge smoothly with the rhythms and improvisation that make up the language of jazz.

"For me art is above all a memento in the sense that it can call to mind and make visible vanished colours and forms."

Gábor Gadó
 
 

Perhaps there is some social judgement in this musical memoir, but that is not important. I have to refer once more to Hrabal: he makes something holy from whatever moves him. The Hrabal smile, which transcends the minor things in life, is very close to me. (...) Like the Poles, we Hungarians are into self-flagellation, which is of course related to the way history has treated us. (...) But with the Czechs, for the most part, instead of a tragic worldview irony flourished, in which fundamentally dramatic situations are embraced by a delight in the beauty of life. The smile that peaks out from behind Hrabal’s realism is what I have tried to project onto my memories of socialism.

Gábor Gadó

 

The Hrabal smile

I was less than thirteen when I played with my band at a dance course in a community arts centre in Pécs. It was no ordinary band: it included a surveyor, a disabled diabetic, a car mechanic and a butcher. It was the golden age of the beat generation, and like everyone else, I played the guitar, even behaving like a real showman on stage. To make a living, though, we were forced to play at weddings. There we played Hungarian nóta (old popular songs), the songs of the Swabian and Serbian inhabitants of the region, and of course for young people the hits of the day. Then from the mid-seventies I worked in the catering industry. There was a centralised dispatching system: musicians playing light music were sent from a national centre to a suitable venue. Here there was an opportunity to play salon music and hits from Broadway. In 1980 I came to Budapest, to the jazz department of the Bartók Conservatoire, the only place in the country where jazz (which, being a form of western music, was just about tolerated) could be studied. During my years of study I became a professional accompanist to famous performers.

I accompanied Teri Harangozó in the first song on the disc countless times; at the time it was one of the most popular hits. It’s a wonderfully simplistic song, but I tried to uplift its simplicity a little with a kind of loving reticence. The second song quotes from Hrabal’s book Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age, and the title of the album also refers to this. You can hear cha-cha-cha in it, just as in the next you can here blues, rock and roll, and waltz.

The basic material for Down South is not my own, but was a world hit at the time. From my childhood on I have played it umpteen times, and the memory of this always conjures up for me a restaurant in the mining town Pécsbánya where I probably had to play it the most often, because the song was the miners’ favourite.

Budapest, Budapest conjures up a toy-town, a town of illusions, and is a nostalgic souvenir of this town, often frivolous and unfaithful, and yet loveable.

Direct humour is used only in the sixth song: at the time I wrote it, the “three tenors” went on stage for the first time. By using bel canto material as the basis I tried to poke fun at the impossible commercialisation of art.

The last song is a Broadway hit, a sickly sweet, tear-jerking melody, and I haven’t altered its naivety. For me it is the embodiment of the eternal American dream in our region.

Perhaps there is some social judgement in this musical memoir, but that is not important. I have to refer once more to Hrabal: he makes something holy from whatever moves him. The Hrabal smile, which transcends the minor things in life, is very close to me. Although he was a qualified lawyer and was incredibly cultured, for a long time he was a manual worker, like Béla Hamvas in Hungary. Like the Poles, we Hungarians are into self-flagellation, which is of course related to the way history has treated us. For example, look at the Poles Bruno Schultz or Witkiewicz: their worldviews are both tragic. But with the Czechs, for the most part, instead of a tragic worldview irony flourished, in which fundamentally dramatic situations are embraced by a delight in the beauty of life. The smile that peaks out from behind Hrabal’s realism is what I have tried to project onto my memories of socialism.

Gábor Gadó
As told to: Miklós Dolinszky
Translated by Richard Robinson


László Matisz Gábor Gadó: Homeward

The "homecoming" of this Hungarian guitar player from France is more than just a noble gesture to those at home. Homeward is a metaphor that encapsulates interlinking or overlapping symbols. With this record, Gábor Gadó returns to his Pan-European cultural heritage, as well as to the vitality, nourished by ethnic diversity, that has for centuries been a decisive force in shaping the musical image of his homeland. The notion of "homecoming" however depends on an absence, and thus can only be authentic if this duality is not cloaked in hypocritical mystery. Homeward expresses this inherent duality with heartfelt honesty. Hence this CD is not only special due to its complexity, but is also a fully authentic production with regard to its aims and conceptual clarity.
Gábor Gadó was born in Budapest in 1957. He began his musical studies on the violin, later switching to the classical guitar. He graduated in 1983 from the Budapest Jazz Faculty, now an autonomous department of the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, having studied under Gyula Babos. He started to compose soon after, while playing with top Hungarian jazz musicians, including Róbert Rátonyi Jr., Ferenc Snétberger, Attila László, Béla Szakcsi Lakatos, Elemér Balázs and Kálmán Oláh. As time passed, he began to play with increasing frequency in international ensembles, with famous artists such as Gerard Weasley, Randy Ross and Shammy Jinda (György Jinda). He has lived in Paris since 1995, and has worked for a short time in London. The material for his highly successful Greetings from the Angel was prepared with his present quartet, which has been active on the French jazz scene since 2000. The recording was made in Budapest, with contributions from Hungarian musicians.
Homeward is Gábor Gadó's fifth recording, and the third CD produced in co-operation with the Budapest Music Center since 1999. It is representative of both Gadó's French quartet and the renowned Hungarian musicians who make their presence felt in a highly sensitive and ingenious way in a special musical atmosphere.
Singer Gábor Winand is an adept performer of Gábor Gadó's compositions, which have formed a part of his repertory for some time. His singing voice and mature technique adapt harmonically to Gadó's increasingly characteristic lacing of melodies. This co-operation has given birth to exceptionally beautiful solos, exemplifying a high level of concentration on each other, even in the more jazz-like improvisations.
Special mention should be made of the two solo saxophone players, Mihály Dresch (Hungary) and Matthieu Donarier (France). Dresch is one of the very few jazz musicians whose music is imbued with a Central European mentality, while Donarier surprises the audience with a brilliant instrumental technique, paired with an exceptional emotional richness.
The violin of Ferenc Kovács, a member of the Dresch Quartet, is another unmistakable, unique sound on the recording, and he excels in performing the Central European and slightly Balkan motifs, appearing for the first time in Gadó's pieces. To top this off the band features a rhythm section with an almost identical level of sensitivity, consisting of double bass players Mátyás Szandai and Sébastian Boisseau with drummers Elemér Balázs and Joe Quitzke. Though Gábor Gadó's instrumental performance is high soaring, elusive and translucently ethereal, it determines every part of the production, mainly with its melodic, harmonic richness and abstract conceptuality rather than by its dominance. The meta-communicative content of his music is discernible not only to his fellow musicians, but has also an appreciable effect on the audience, elevating them to a state approaching grace. The clear conceptual aim of Gadó's compositions may eclipse even the significance of his guitar playing. In an interview given on the occasion of his previous record, he expressed the basic motive for his creative intention as follows: "I look for meaning and content in all kinds of music, and I aim at a clear, intelligible expression in mine. As for the reception of music, I do not conceive it as some kind of a laboured analysis; it simply requires that I understand its meaning and be able to communicate my message to others."
Homeward projects dual emotions, interpretations, approaches and relationships simultaneously. The effect of the French way of existence and point of view, combined with the Hungarian emotional attitude and general feelings, (in one composition, the merger of the two), is especially significant in this production. To ensure the authentic expression of these, Gábor Gadó chose French musicians for the former and Hungarian musicians for the latter. Finally, we must not forget the literary inspiration behind the musical composition, which has been an essential element in the background of Gadó's compositions for years. To demonstrate this, here is a quote from one of our earlier conversations: "Each person has an inborn, internal source of energy that usually defines his every communication. Of course, it matters if one is reticent or open by nature; though one may not be better than the other, it defines your way of living. In my case, since childhood, external inspiration, especially books, have always played a very important part."

László Matisz (translated by Fruzsina Balkay, Eszter Molnár)
 

Website of the artist:

www.songs.hu/gaborgado

Artist's Facebook page:

Gábor Gadó - One Glimpse Is Not Enough

Gábor Gadó
One Glimpse Is Not Enough
BMC Records
1999

Jazz

Gábor Gadó - Greetings From The Angel

Gábor Gadó
Greetings From The Angel
BMC Records
2000

Jazz

Gábor Gadó - Homeward

Gábor Gadó
Homeward
BMC Records
2001

Jazz

Gábor Gadó - Modern Dances For The Advanced In Age

Gábor Gadó
Modern Dances For The Advanced In Age
BMC Records
2003

Jazz

Gábor Gadó - The Second Coming

Gábor Gadó
The Second Coming
BMC Records
2004

Jazz

Gábor Gadó - Byzantinum

Gábor Gadó
Byzantinum
BMC Records
2008

Jazz

Gábor Gadó - Lung-Gom-Pa

Gábor Gadó
Lung-Gom-Pa
BMC Records
2010

Jazz

Gábor Gadó - Veil And Quintessence (With Laurent Blondiau)

Gábor Gadó
Veil And Quintessence (With Laurent Blondiau)
BMC Records
2017

Jazz