It’s not something I like to admit, but until a few hours ago I was unaware of the fine hot jazz in Hungary. Carol Baer had given me a CD by the Bratislava Hot Serenaders, but my world geography is so weak that I never quite figured out where Bratislava was, although I liked the band.
But I’ve just heard from Tamas Ittzes, of the Bohem Ragtime Jazz Band and the Bohem Ragtime and Jazz Festival. And I’m delighted to add his site to the blogroll: http://www.bohemragtime.com. If you are still burdened by a narrow world-view, here are some of the players who have appeared at the Festivals in the past: Paul Asaro, Bria Skonberg, Matthias Seuffert, Nick Ward, Russ Phillips, Paolo Alderighi, Morten Gunnar Larsen, Bob Barnard — are you convinced? The RJB has also recorded with Barnard, George Kelly, Zeke Zarchy (!), and Joe Muranyi.
But this isn’t an instance of a European group that needs the visiting stars to bolster itself. Proof is here, in their March 2007 live version of Ellington’s BLACK BEAUTY. The players are Attila Korb, cornet (normally trombone); József Lebanov, trumpet; Zoltán Mátrai, tenor; Tamás Ittzés, piano, leader; József Török, bass; György Mátrai, guitar; Alfréd Falusi, drums.
And here’s more evidence of the worldwide connections amongst swinging jazz musicians — an entertaining (and well-edited) mini-documentary filmed at the 2009 Festival. Watch closely and you’ll see your favorites, and some players you hadn’t known but obviously should.
I’ll be posting more about the CDs and the festivals to come in Hungary in 2010 — one in March and a Louis Armstrong Festival in June. Obviously, NOBODY’S SWEETHEART and TIGER RAG transcend any language barriers, as we always knew they did.