BACCHANAL (LP) -pre-order-

label:EBALUNGA!!! (EU)

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A1 Three King Fishers 4:50
A2 Love Is Blue 4:17
A3 Theme From Valley Of The Dolls 3:45
A4 Bacchanal 4:55
A5 Sunshine Superman 3:45
B1 Some Velvet Morning 5:10
B2 The Look Of Love 3:15
B3 Divided City 3:22
B4 Theme from) Valley of the Dolls (Single Version) 3:01
B5 Sunshine Superman (Single Version) 2:50
B6 The Look of Love (Single Version) 2:43
B7 Bacchanal (Single Version) 2:43

Personnel: Gabor Szabo, Jim Stewart (guitar), Luis Kabok (bass), Jimmy Keltner (drums), Hal Gordon (percussion). Recorded at Western Recording, Los Angeles, California on February 9, 1968. This two-fer includes two late-'60s recordings guitarist Gabor Szabo released on his own Skye label (his partners were Gary McFarland and Cal Tjader). As an m.o. in his career as a leader, Szabo found not only commercial viability in covering the pop tunes of the day -- as opposed to the dusty standards that were the norm for jazz pickers at the time -- but creative expression as well. The first, Bacchanal, was the last to feature the band that had previously recorded for Impulse! The group included drummer Jim Keltner, guitarist Jim Stewart, bassist Louis Kabok, and percussionist Hal Gordon (Keltner and Kabok would remain for 1969). Szabo had been raising eyebrows ever since his tenure with Chico Hamilton for his blend of jazz and gypsy styles, but his Impulse! recordings, most notably Spellbinder, Jazz Raga, and Sorcerer, put him in a league of his own as he added pop, rock, and Indian modal and Middle Eastern scales to his intoxicating brew. After leaving Impulse!, Szabo moved toward the mainstream but in a decidedly angular way, moving through the hits of the day with exotic and often poignant and canny arrangements, the center of which was always his scintillating, mysterious guitar tone. Bacchanal is the stronger of the two recordings, but they are both excellent examples of jazz moving into psychedelic terrain. On the former album, whether covering Donovan's "Three King Fishers" or Lee Hazlewood's "Some Velvet Morning" (which bear a remarkable, almost uncomfortable resemblance to one another), "Love Is Blue," "Theme from The Valley of the Dolls," the Bacharach/David classic "The Look of Love," or his two stunning originals, the effect is the same. Szabo takes the listener deeply into a song's lyric melody by building textures and dynamics all around it, surrounding it with different modalities and droning octaves while accenting the beat and providing a polyrhythmic backdrop, making it swing and pop. On the latter recording, Szabo augmented his band with organist Michael Melvoin and cellist George Ricci, and used a second bassist (Randy Cierley plays electric Fender bass along with Kabok's standup) to create another rhythmic dimension to these sides. The songs were shorter, more Baroque, and gentler, with tracks like "Both Sides Now," "Dear Prudence," "Stormy," and the set's hit, "Walk Away Renee," being the most notable. Szabo was very successful in getting his brand of psychedelic pop-jazz on the burgeoning free-format FM stations that were popping up everywhere, but it should also be noted that these unique arrangements and the stunning musical creativity that went into them have weathered the test of time exceptionally well, and these recordings sound less dated than they otherwise might. This is a great place to start with Szabo. ~ Thom Jurek

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