“Images” – The Budapest Jazz Orchestra Meets Kalman Olah – Hungaroton HDC 71242, 60:20 [Distr. by Qualiton] ****:
Wow – take the hot, exciting sound of a genuine Hungarian gypsy orchestra, populate it with top jazz native musicians, and add the strong influence of a classical composer/countryman who has influenced many American jazz musicians, and this striking CD is what you get. It has the same sort of concerto grosso approach as classic albums featuring the Dave Brubeck Quartet with symphony or the Modern Jazz Quartet. The members of pianist/composer Kalman Olah’s ensemble are as large as a quintet in some of the tracks (piano/sop. sax/trombone/tenor sax/trumpet) or as small as just piano and tenor sax in others.
Some of the tracks get into a highly intellectual modern jazz bag, but the feeling of the blues is nearly always constant. In addition to the presence of Bela Bartok there is the influence of Thelonious Monk on the 4th and 5th tracks – built around his classic “Round Midnight.” The two-movement work by Olah, "Images", takes up the first two tracks of the CD. In it, he finds the influence of the respected composer not so much directly via quoting but “fertilizing the soil of jazz.” Including the soloists, the band numbers about 19 members. This CD certainly illustrates the international status of jazz.
TrackList: Images for Jazz Orchestra: Parts 1 & 2; Valley of Megiddo, Prologue to ‘Round Midnight and ‘Round Midnight; Last Moment.
– John Henry