Szakcsi Lakatos Béla (HU)

He performed at the most prestigious festivals from Zurich to Warsaw, from Nuremberg to Belgrade, and from North America to Asia.

Chick Corea has often expressed appreciation of Szakcsi’s excellence as composer and performer, whose partners have included to the present day the like of Carmen Jones, Frank Zappa, Art Farmer, Mark Ledford, Dave Weckl, Omar Hakim, Terri Lyne Carrington, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Jay Leonhart, Gerald Veasley, Victor Bailey, Randy Roos, Attila Zoller, Rodney Holmes, David Sanchez, or Mike Richmond.

In the Hungarian jazz history Szakcsi has had a major share in popularizing fusion jazz first with the band Rákfogó, and then with Saturnus. Simultaneously he also got engaged in collecting treasures of Gypsy folklore, and reinterpreting these pieces of music as stage works.

In the past ten years he has also immersed himself in the compositions of György Kurtág, and presently he is occupied with studying the works of György Ligeti, Péter Eötvös and Pierre Boulez as well. To create a common language out of hitherto separate musical genres – this is obviously Szakcsi’s true vocation.

Szakcsi published his album Na Dara! (Don’t be affraid) in 2004. He tells the story about it:

Don’t think me conceited, but I do think this album is unique. In a way it’s a new style. Call it ‘Gypsy jazz’, if you like. No one disputes that jazz comes from America, but some Americans are reluctant to admit that there’s such a thing as European jazz. However, all American musicians, be they black or white, make one exception and that is the late great Belgian Gypsy guitar player, Django Reinhardt. When they first heard him over there they recognised his music as jazz, although not quite the same as their own. Django hardly ever played the blues, yet his music had the texture and feeling of jazz. My music is, inevitably, more modern than that of Django and it comes from a different Gypsy tradition. What is very special about the Gypsy bands is the uncanny time-keeping combined with the freedom of playing rubato. Any jazzman who has ever heard a Gypsy band is always amazed by it. But that is the combination you will find on this album too.