Les Czimber

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An excellent advanced pianist able to bring his own conception to straight-ahead jazz, Les Czimber considers it a miracle that he ever made it to the United States. He discovered jazz in communist Hungary…
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An excellent advanced pianist able to bring his own conception to straight-ahead jazz, Les Czimber considers it a miracle that he ever made it to the United States. He discovered jazz in communist Hungary by listening to the Voice of America broadcasts and as a teenager he led a band in Budapest. Serving in the Hungarian Army during their 1956 revolution, his patrol was captured by the Russians. When a Russian officer discovered that he was a musician, they had a lengthy conversation about music and the lives of the soldiers (unlike many others) were spared. After the revolution failed, Czimber escaped from Hungary by walking all night through the snow to Yugoslavia. A few months later, he moved to Milwaukee.

Czimber received some recognition when he set a world record by playing music for over 78 hours (with only a ten-minute break each 60 minutes) in a department store window, a record he later broke by topping 79. In Milwaukee, Czimber met the young singer Al Jarreau, and they worked together for several years, including five months in San Francisco. Czimber spent the latter half of the 1960s leading a show band, and then in 1971 moved to Southern California. Since then, he has generally played with a trio (using bassist John Patitucci for a long period) in the Orange County area, displaying a style influenced by, but not derivative of, Bill Evans.