Grencsčo Open Collective

Eleven Spontaneous Music Pieces
Hunnia Records HR 1423

Having since the 1980s distinguished himself as one of Hungary’s most progressive Jazzers, Nyiregyhaza-born multi-reed player István Grencsó recently added fresher seasoning to his musical goulash by welcoming a trio of young musicians to his Grencsčo Open Collective. With Eleven Spontaneous Music Pieces however, the veteran player seasons this sweet-and-savory stew more generously, adding a slab of German nourishment to the already piquant concoction.

The inclusion is that of Berlin clarinetist and bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall, known for his work with pianist Aka Takase and as part of the Die Enttäuschung quartet. Like a properly selected condiment, though, his contributions only help to bring out the favors of the already zesty repast concocted by pianist Máté Pozsár, bassist Robert Benko and drummer Szilveszter Miklós, with the program shaped master-chef-like by Grencsó’s tenor and alto saxophones, flute and bass clarinet.

A long-time associate of two of Hungary’s most accomplished Free Music composers, saxophonist Mihály Dresch and pianist György Szabados, here Grencsčo eschews composition for out-and-out free improvising. A few of the intermezzos though are the equivalent of throwing a pinch of seasoning into the cooking pot – zesty but fleeting. In the main they’re diminutive hors-d’oeuvres or palate cleansers, devised to contrast or meld the textures from say two reeds played simultaneously with drum rolls or highlight subtle drum pressure and ethereal flute peeps.

But those courses also plate the sounds properly so that every flavor can be tasted and provide the healthiest nourishment. For instance in front of tremolo piano clicks, double bass plucks and drum rattles on “IX” , Grencsó and Mahall create a double-reed cookout with tones that at points are as sweet as Benny Goodman’s and at others as savory as Archie Shepp’s. Pozsár’s subsequent variations add gentleness to the proceedings that convincingly moderate the theme even as horn interjections keep it from blandness. Elsewhere fast food variations on the musical banquet, with tasteful keyboard comping and delicately seasoned sax and flute smears are as prominent as the thickened batter from bass clarinet pedal-point,

Like an elaborate desert created at the table, “XI”, the final course, consists of three separate but interdependent ingredients. One strain contributed by the horns, mixes Free Jazz glossolalia and altissimo chicken clucking; in another Pozsár modifies the initial blazing cooking fires to a slow simmer so both his pattern-making and Benko’s bass line is audible. Finally after the tune bubbles with a fricassee of intermittent staccato reed cries and dark rhythm tones, the appetizing finale includes bone-hard drum smacks and succulent reed vibrated fodder.

Famous for its distinctive cuisine, Hungary should also be known for its innovative Free Music players. Lick your lips to image what future musical meals are being planned there.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. I 2. II 3. III 4. IV 5. V 6. VI 7. VII 8. VIII 9. IX 10. X 11. XI

Personnel: Rudi Mahall (clarinet and bass clarinet); István Grencsó (tenor and alto saxophones, flute and bass clarinet); Máté Pozsár (piano); Robert Benko (bass) and Szilveszter Miklós (drums)