Akosh S.

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Since his recordings began to circulate during the late 1990s, saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Akosh S has evolved into one of Eastern and Central Europe's most accomplished creative improvising…
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Since his recordings began to circulate during the late 1990s, saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Akosh S has evolved into one of Eastern and Central Europe's most accomplished creative improvising artists. Although in Hungarian his name is spelled Ákos (pronounced Akosh), he should not be confused with the pop singer Ákos Kovacs, who is professionally billed as Ákos. Szelevényi's decision to identify himself as Akosh S was almost certainly born of the necessity to differentiate himself from the other Ákos. Born Szelevényi Akos in Debrecen, Hungary on February 19, 1966, he relocated to Paris at the age of 20. His first three albums were released on the French Barclay label in 1998. Omeko, which was recorded live in 1996 while his Unit opened for French rockers Noir Désir, constitutes his earliest appearance on an established label. The quartet heard on this recording formed the nucleus of Akosh's initial ensemble. Cardinal members were violinist Joe Doherty, double bassist Bernard Malandain, and percussionist Philippe Foch. For the second album, Imafa, the Unit became a quintet with the addition of Bob Coke Volcsanszky, who handled sarod, jug, kalimba, conch, and percussion. For Elettér, which was recorded in Paris over three days in mid-September 1998, Akosh S. assembled ten musicians, adding clarinetist Alexandre Authelain, three-string violist Péter Éri, lutist Tadeusz Paczula, and second bassist Robert Benko as well as tabla and djembe drummers Pape Dieye and Bertrand Cantat. Portions of Elettér also feature Paczula and Volcsanszky strumming tambura.

Like its leader, who is listed as handling more than one dozen types of sound-generating devices, the Akosh S. Unit is ruggedly multi-instrumental to a degree that illustrates the lasting global influence of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and other groups that grew out of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians during the '60s and ‘70s. In addition to his primary brace of saxophones and clarinets, Akosh S is likely to cross over to the Turkish woodwind known as the tarogato; the double reed bombard or shawm; the gardon or percussive cello; the kaval or end-blown flute, and the African thumb piano or kalimba. At Limoges in 2000, an eight-piece Akosh S Unit recorded Kebelen, the first of several albums released by the French label Universal Music. Nap Mint Nap was recorded in 2004, with the Unit scaled down to five individuals including alto saxophonist Quentin Rollet, bassist Christian Brazier, drummer Gildas Etevenard and a hurdy-gurdy player named Andras Vigh. Also in 2004, Akosh S. came out with a solo album entitled Aki. Since 2005 he has recorded with contrabassists Joëlle Leándre and Denis Charolles, as well as visual and performance artist eRikm. Erem, a duo recording with Etevenard, was released in 2011. Akosh S' touring itinerary during the first part of 2012 found him performing throughout France and Japan. He embodies the most promising aspects of modern creative improvised music as it continues to propagate throughout the world.