Akosh S. / Akosh Szelevenyi / Unit


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The leader of the group is Hungarian and presents compositions with references to Hungarian folk music, culture, and the language itself. The group is a combination of French and Hungarian players, but despite that and the title of Universal Music, the main frame of reference is black American free jazz, particularly the way the saxophonists get around on their horns, from grumbling split tones to pentatonic or lydian thank you notes. It is a horn of plenty, or plenty or horns with some five different players on hand wielding some form of saxophone, clarinet, or flute. The recording might not be particularly original, but it is energetic and vivid, beautifully recorded and reminiscent of one of the great collective energy jazz sessions, the epic Under the Sun recorded in the '70s by the St. Louis-based Human Arts Ensemble. As on that record, there are often several reed players improvising at once over a rhythm-section sound that is awash with odd bits of percussion and what even sounds like a boombox trying to give birth. There always seems to be something new entering the sound picture, or someone else barging in with some type of sonic stimulation. Some of the players double on brass instruments, while Mokhtar Choumaine plays not only flute by the traditional folk reed instruments the ney and the kaval. So there are always plenty of interesting things going on. What Hungarian influence there is in the actual music tends to come in toward the openings of pieces, as if setting the mood before all hell breaks loose. It is hard to imagine fans of energy jazz not enjoying either of the lengthy tracks, such as the 17-minute "Tan," certainly hotter than a trip to the beach, even with global warming. Actually, "tan" is the Hungarian word for "perhaps." The final track, "Ek," sounds a bit more European, with the accent on strings and more classical-influenced writing, although not played with all that much ensemble precision. Cover art is extremely unique, including a second cover hidden under artwork printed on peel-away plastic and an attractive folding booklet tucked inside the gatefold.

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