8 Trios for 4 Pianists
BMC Records (P) 2006
BMC CD 126
Béla Szakcsi Lakatos - piano
Róbert Szakcsi Lakatos - piano
Béla Szakcsi Lakatos Jr. - piano
Kálmán Oláh - piano
Jack DeJohnette - drums
John Patitucci - double bass
Producer: László Gőz
Executive producers: Tamás Bognár, Róbert Maloschik
The recording was supported by the National Cultural Fund of Hungary and the Artisjus Music Foundation.
In autumn 1995, when I was both the producer of Bartók Radio's jazz programme and the chief editor of the specialist journal MaJazz, I had a bright idea: what would happen if the "gipsy jazz legend" Béla Szakcsi Lakatos and his sons Róbert and Béla Jr., also pianists, and their cousin Kálmán Oláh, were to get together in a concert under the name Szakcsi Generation Band? Béla was reluctant at first, but after I "softened up" the children, he finally gave in.
I organised their first concert in public at the beginning of December 1995 in studio 6 at the Hungarian Radio, and this was followed by a national tour of ten concerts in spring 1996, of phenomenal success.
From spring 1998 the Producers' Office for Concerts at Bartók Radio organised a jazz talent contest concert each year for instrumental soloists. I asked Szakcsi to be the chairman for the piano and saxophone contest. From 2000 on, we invited world stars from America to be the chairmen of honour at the final and the following gala evening. First was Pat Metheny, chairman of honour at the guitar contest. At the gala evening it was "compulsory" for our American guests to play with well-known Hungarians, plus a duo with the winner!
In January 2001 the saxophonist Mihály Ráduly, a legendary figure in Hungarian jazz, came to Hungary from New York, and before he travelled back we organised a farewell evening for him in the Jazz Garden, where by "coincidence" the Szakcsi Trio were playing. First I asked Mihály to be the Hungarian chairman of the following year's competition, then in the interval I asked Béla if he would be interested in playing with Jack DeJohnette next year. He thought I was fooling, but he ought to have known that when I get an idea in my head, I see it through, come hell or high water.
In autumn 2001, I wrote to Jack DeJohnette, regarding the invitation to the drum competition, saying that in the second part of the gala evening he would have to play with the "number one Hungarian jazz pianist", and to play a duo with the winner, which I imagined not as a duel of drums, but that he would play piano, with the winner on drums. He was really keen on this latter idea, and regarding Szakcsi asked if I could send some of his stuff, because he didn't know him. Béla suggested I send the albums Straight Ahead (1994) and On the Way Back Home (2000), because on these he plays with American musicians. That's what I did, but as an extra I sent the Szakcsi Generation Band's first recording. And lo and behold, that's what Jack liked best!
In May 2002 Róbert Szakcsi was playing piano in the finals of the drum competition. Jack was asking in the interval who the kid was. I told him it was Béla's son, and that he is also on the Szakcsi Generation Band concert recording. After the results were announced, Mihály Ráduly got Jack to tag along with the crowd going to the small jazz club where Béla happened to be playing that day. By sheer fluke, Béla Jr. and Kálmán were in the Jazz Garden too, and they'd brought Róbert with them. The atmosphere in the club grew more intense, and Jack eventually "jammed" with all four pianists. When I crashed out at three in the morning, they were still going strong.
The morning after the gala evening my wife Gabi Szász and I took Jack to the airport, when he remarked that one day he'd be happy to make a disc with the Szakcsi Generation.
In 2003 I started organising the double bass and bass guitar competition. I asked John Patitucci to be the chairman of honour, and he accepted straight away.
Since this was originally envisaged as being the last talent contest, I thought we should round off the closing gala evening with a bang. My idea was that at the beginning John should play a duo with each of the winners, and then with some of the winners of earlier contests. In the second half the American chairmen of honour (Pat Metheny, Jack DeJohnette, and John Patitucci) would play in an unprecedented, and thus unrepeatable, trio.
And (I thought) if Jack and John were here anyway, why shouldn't we record that disc with the four pianists?
That's what happened. We recorded the disc in two days, after the gala evening. The next day was the mixing, which Jack oversaw - John had to travel back home. At the farewell evening held in the Szakcsi home the pianists were very happy, and Jack too was really pleased with the final result.
That's as far as my role went. I am proud to have "dreamed up" this production, to have seen it through, and to have been able to take part in the seemingly endless public ovation following the band's concert at the 2005 Budapest Jazz Festival.