Guitarist Gabor Szabo's debut as a leader (after an important stint with the Chico Hamilton Quintet) is surprisingly successful. The reason this LP is a bit of a surprise is that the repertoire (in addition to two originals apiece by the leader and Gary McFarland) has a few unlikely songs by the Beatles ("Yesterday" and "If I Fell") and Burt Bacharach (including "Walk On By"). Usually jazz adaptations of rock songs in the 1960s are lightweight, but Szabo's original sound, the unusual instrumentation (two or three guitars, Sadao Watanabe on flute, Gary McFarland on marimba, bass, drums and percussion) and McFarland's clever arrangements uplift the music. The playing time at 35 minutes is a bit brief, but the performances are better than expected.
The Hungarian trumpeter, Gábor Boldoczki (…) received the coveted Prix Davidoff of the Reemtsma-Foundation for his "technical perfection and fully-developed artistic virtuosity", followed by the highly esteemed Prix Young Artist of the Year in 2002. After previously being awarded the Echo Klassik as Best Newcomer in October 2003, Gábor Boldoczki was again honoured by the German Phono Academy in 2008 as Instrumentalist of the Year.
Recorded for Mercury in 1976, the Nightflight sessions saw Szabo travelling to Philadelphia's Sigma Sound Studios to make an album indebted to the funky, soulful music of the legendary Philadelphia International Records home to such artists as Teddy Pendergrass, Lou Rawls, Billy Paul, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, The Three Degrees and The O'Jays. Deepening Nightflight's links to The Philadelphia Sound were the musicians accompanying Szabo. The rhythm section comprised members of Instant Funk a group who appeared on many Philadelphia International recordings alongside various studio players, among them keyboardist-composer Dexter Wansel and guitarist-pianist-singer Bunny Sigler who also produced the sessions. The result is a colourful fusion of lush soul music with Szabo's distinctive brand of jazz guitar.
Released in 1981 on a small Hungarian label, this 1978 session recorded in Hollywood is the guitarist's final record. "Out of the Night" interestingly pairs him with pianist Chick Corea. But the remainder of the record is a standard late-'70s fusion date without Corea, highlighted by the Return to Forever intrigue of "A Thousand Times."
Released just six months after Gypsy '66, Gabor Szabo's second album as a leader (after leaving a sublime Chico Hamilton band that also included Charles Lloyd) remains one of his finest moments in the studio. Szabo utilized the tales of bassist Ron Carter and his old boss Hamilton on drums, as well as a pair of fine Latin percussionists – Willie Bobo and Victor Pantoja. The groove quotient was very high on Spellbinder, maybe even higher than on later albums such as Jazz Raga or Sorcerer. This set is all Szabo, drifting, wafting, and soaring above all that rhythm; the track selection provides ample space for Szabo's highly individualized Eastern modal style to shine. The set opens with the title track, a snaky guitar masterpiece with plenty of droning strings and pinched chords that are followed by open string flourishes.