Akosh Szelevenyi - tenor & soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, metal clarinet, gardon, flute, bombarde, kalimba, vocal, trombone, trumpet;
Joe Doherty - violin, viola, alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flute;
Bertrand Cantat - vocals;
Nicolas Guillemet - soprano saxophone;
Mokhtar Choumane - flute ney, kaval;
Quentin Rollet - alto saxophone;
Bernard Malandain - doublebass;
Philippe Foch - drums, percussions;
Recorded at Studio Limoges, France, 2000.
01. Korai [06:05]
02. Magvak [11:29]
03. Tán [17:02]
04. Ota [15:16]
05. Ék [04:19]
Since the ECM label opened its jazz doors to improvisation based on European folk forms as much as on African-American traditions, other labels have followed suit. Saxophonist Akosh Szeleveny is Hungarian, his partners French, Irish and American. The resulting music blends wailing, minor-key melodies, literally off-beat timing and furious, whirling-dervish crescendi. But unlike the confined jazz/Balkan fusions of dance-band king Ivo Papasov - the only near parallel I can think of - Szelevnyi moves his music out towards free jazz, Indian raga and modern classical forms, creating a fascinating album with much more than curiosity value.
Akosh Szelevenyi is the best thing that has happened to French jazz, and consequently European jazz, in twelve years; The words are those of journalist Serge Loupien, writing in the daily Libération (October 5th, 1998) about the multi-reed-player and multi-instrumentalist Akosh S., who was born in Debrecen, Hungary, on February 19th, 1966.
The story of Akosh is the story of a man with a taste for freedom. The story of a citizen of the world who could never bear to be locked away in a single school of thought, a man who never swore faith, nor admitted to the slightest illusions based on the official, dominant line. As a child in his native Hungary, he learned to play the recorder, the clarinet and the bassoon. At 16, the adolescent opted for the saxophone, and attended classical and jazz classes at the Budapest Academy; in secret, he listened to the new sounds coming from America, the cries of passion thrown out by Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Dewey Redman, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and his Liberation Music Orchestra... an authentic revelation. Akosh's quest is alive and burning, his music a genuine geyser.
The torrential breath and branding-iron heat in the sound of Akosh Szelevenyi has been radiating over the Parisian scene for fifteen years now. Ever since he arrived in the French capital, the young Hungarian, a saxophonist, clarinettist, multi-instrumentalist and composer, has been associated with the genuine (and jubilant) rebirth of the avant-garde – after the lengthy hegemony shared by fusion and neo-bop – as well as many other alternative movements; and in 1991 he formed his own little variable-geometry band (from four to nine musicians) and began making his own records. From the mid-Nineties on, the group (Akosh S. Unit) opened for Noir Désir and then, in 1997, the man hastily called a “free jazzman” by those fond of convenient qualifiers signed with Barclay Records (then a PolyGram label, today Universal). There followed a magnificent series of albums that were equally fiery, stirring and thrilling, and the final three (“Vetek”, “Kebelen” and “Lenne”), which mixed ‘live’ pieces with collages, formed a triptych that established a kind of inventory of that first “Unit”.
Then came the discovery of the new ensemble led by Akosh, a group now comprising Quentin Rollet on alto saxophone, Marseilles bassist Christian Brazier, drummer Gildas Etevenard and narrator Andras Wigh, a vocalist and specialist in all matters relating to the hurdy-gurdy, an instrument with almost-orchestral functions belonging to the string-family, albeit with a wind-up handle and keyboard. Its sound here reminds you of the sheets of sound that might come from a synthesiser coupled with a swarm of humming bees, or a violin with the distant scents of the Orient…
In 2003 the release of the album “Nap Mint Nap” marked a turning-point in the saxophonist’s career.
Recorded in a tiny country church at Vàmosszabadi in Hungary, AKI is Akosh’s most melodic album to date. For some years the saxophonist had been nourishing the idea of a solo album recording. All that was missing was the guiding line that would give the project form. Having finally opted for an almost ascetic sobriety, Akosh now gives us this album, a pure, fifty-minute improvisation that is a genuine raw diamond.