ALL ABOUT JAZZ June 24, 2011
LASZLO GARDONY: SIGNATURE TIME (Sunnyside)
According to his liner notes, pianist Laszlo Gardony'sSignature Time is a tribute to all African-inspired sound. It's a tribute that recognizes the centrality of African music in so many contemporary genres, showing this recognition in the creation of some fine original music and the reworking of some classic songs.
Gardony was born in Hungary but has been resident in the USA for some years. He's a professor of piano at Berklee and has worked with Dave Holland, Randy Brecker and Miroslav Vitous, among others. The core trio of Gardony, bassist John Lockwood and drummer Yoron Israel has been together for almost a decade. Tenor saxophonistStan Strickland, Gardony's old friend and collaborator, adds some tellingly effective horn playing as well as an evocative wordless vocal on Spirit Dance.
The band is at its most upbeat on Bourbon Street Boogie, a 20-bar blues that gives Strickland some space to blow, but it's the two most laidback tunes that show the musicians' talents off to best effect. Silent Words is a wonderfully gentle piece of music. The trio is controlled, concise, economical, yet manages to invest the seemingly simple and repetitive tune with great humanity and beauty. Under The Sky combines Gardony's piano with Israel's vibraharp to create another placid, reflective and beautiful tune.
Gardony also has an imaginative way with cover versions. Billy Strayhorn's Johnny Come Lately gets a bop-flavored treatment with Lockwood's solid pulse and Israel's swinging percussion giving Gardony and Strickland a strong center around which they create flowing and lyrical lines. Lennon and McCartney's Lady Madonna sounds rather unimaginative by comparison - in stark contrast to the band's reinterpretation of Eleanor Rigby. Gardony keeps this song's melody at the center of his arrangement, but Lockwood and Gardony's bass line gives the tune a hypnotic and dark pulse while Israel's jagged, funky drumming could almost be classed as a second lead line. Sir George Shearing's Lullaby Of Birdland gets a similarly creative reworking - Lockwood's bass riff once again at the heart of the music as Gardony and Israel set up a slinky and relaxed groove.
Signature Time has style, imagination and beauty, both on Gardony's original compositions and on his imaginatively reworked versions of standards. The album enhances the reputation of every one of the musicians and re-affirms the talents of Gardony himself.
- BRUCE LINDSAY
BUFFALO NEWS June 3, 2011
LASZLO GARDONY: SIGNATURE TIME Gardony is a pianist from Hungary who came to America uncertain of his jazz future, made a trio disc with Jack DeJohnette and never looked back. On this deceptively idiosyncratic disc, which Gardony says, is an acknowledgment of how many genres ... draw upon the African musical heritage, you might well wonder, without hearing it, what the devil the Beatles' Lady Madonna and Eleanor Rigby and Shearing's Lullaby of Birdland are doing on a disc with such a program? The only solution is to listen and find out. What Gardony is doing here is finding a full, rich, explosive and wild life for his left hand to exult rhythmically in riffs, while his right hand dances in melodic rituals and improvises joyously. Imagine those great old Ramsey Lewis hits turned into something vastly more inventive and celebratory of music itself and you've got some idea of what's so good about most of this. Stan Strickland joins Gardony's long-tenured trio (with bassist John Lockwood and drummer Yoron Israel) on tenor on some tunes. It's Gardony's simplicity, though, here which makes this such a commanding trio disc by one of our most interesting pianists. (JEFF SIMON)
GLOBAL RHYTHM MAGAZINE November 2006 Laszlo Gardony Trio “Natural Instinct” (Sunnyside 4003)
Joined by drummer Yoron Israel and bassist John Lockwood, Hungarian-born pianist/composer Gardony performs original compositions and arrangements on this intimate, jazz piano trio album. If jazz piano recordings make your world go around, this will be spinning in your player for quite some time. Gardony's resume precedes him: He's Professor of Piano at Berklee College of Music, has released over a half dozen albums as a bandleader, and has performed in 22 countries. He's also won numerous awards and worked with Dave Liebman, John Abercrombie, David Fathead Newman, Freddie Hubbard, John Blake Jr., Joe Lovano, Randy Brecker and many others. The tight interplay amongst Gardony, Lockwood and Israel is impressive, and careful listening reveals numerous subtleties of rhythm and arrangement. There's hardly an iota of ”world music here as most would understand that phrase, but it is a great American-derived jazz trio outing. - ROBERT KAYE
ALL ABOUT JAZZ, December, 2006 Laszlo Gardony : Natural Instinct (Sunnyside)
Who said those who can't do teach? It's not necessarily true, as some of
the best jazz musicians can be found hiding out in institutions of higher
learning. Laszlo Gardony is a case in point: Hungarian-born and Boston-bred
(he attended Berklee School of Music), the classically trained
pianist/composer has been nurturing the creative talents of jazz' next
generation for some years now. His latest release, Natural Instinct,
features drummer Yoron Israel and fellow Beantowner John Lockwood, a bassist
best known for his work with The Fringe (one of free jazz' best kept
secrets). The disc contains a mix of original tunes and covers, the latter
rendered with Gardony's subtle yet signature reharmonizations and melodic
embellishments. The pianist's chops are flawless, making his complex
rhythmic permutations and fleet lyricism sound effortless and off-the-cuff.
Never overplaying, Gardony offers up short and succinctly constructed solos
that serve the tunes. Drummer Israel is the consummate accompanist,
generously supporting the pianist with an understated eloquence that,
ironically, makes it easy to understand why he may be one of the most
underrated drummers in the biz. Lockwood, too, says more with less; subtle
and supple, he steps out briefly for a few moments, particularly on
Thinking of Stella, where his counterpoint is uncannily empathetic.
Without forcing the issue, Gardony and cohorts have allowed a wonderful
collaboration to take place, like a conversation between old friends who are
not in a hurry to talk each other's ears off. Let's hope his students are
listening too. - TOM GREENLAND
HOT HOUSE MAGAZINE Spotlight December 2006
Hungarian by birth, Gardony is a distinctive improviser who infuses his post-bop pianistics with references to his Hungarian folk roots. A grad of Budapest's Bela Bartok Conservatory, he emigrated to the US four years later to study at Berklee, where he is now a faculty member mentoring the most promising students. Bassist John Lockwood and drummer Yoron Israel - who add to the manifold delights of Laszlo's most recent Sunnyside CD, Natural Instinct - will also play with him. While the album may remind some of Keith Jarrett's output, it's full of deft percussive touches and an abiding romanticism that marks Gardony an original - PAUL BLAIR
MIDWEST RECORD.COM May 19, 2008 CD review: Laszlo Gardony, Dig Deep (Sunnyside 4008)
It’s one thing to say you were influenced by… but to actually work with Dave Holland, Fathead Newman, Randy Brecker and many more gives it a new level of veracity. Gardony has moved into the realm of the greats he has aspired to with this driving set that finds him taking off the gloves and giving the classic jazz piano trio a run for it’s money. A piano man for these times, he marries the future with tradition and sprinkles his own flavor on the proceedings for a killer set that’s sure to impress. This is the place to stop for genre fans looking for something new to blow their ears wide open.
BUFFALO NEWS May 9, 2008 CD review: Laszlo Gardony, Dig Deep (Sunnyside 4008)
We knew something was happening with the Hungarian emigre's first American record a quarter of a century ago. It isn't every brand new jazz pianist arriving on our shores who gets to record with Dave Holland after all. Gardony's Jarrettesque brilliance was evident back then. What was far from evident, though, was that he'd ever make a disc as simple and irresistible as this. It's the best thing he's ever done in an American career that's been honorable but far more marginal than it needed to be. Gardony has simplified both his playing and writing over the years. Now in marrying odd meters/changing time signatures with the sound and the groove of gospel, funk, jazz and rock, he's made a jazz piano trio disc that part of you - guaranteed - is going to want to dance to. It might not be the ordinary danceworthy parts but that's how joyous and primordially infectious this disc is. His bassist is John Lockwood and his drummer is Yoron Israel. Who'd ever have thought that Laszlo Gardony would turn out to be the ultra-hip 21st century Ramsey Lewis? But listen to his version of Summertime. Review: 3 1/2 stars [out of four] - JEFF SIMON