Born: May 22, 1926 | Died: February 14, 1993 Primary Instrument: Guitar, acoustic
Originating from a gypsy family, 4-year old Bacsik started playing the violin. He later studied at the Academy of Music in Budapest. In 1943, he started to perform mainly as guitarist in folk music bands like the one led by accordion player Mihály Tabanyi. As a sideman, he also recorded some 78 rpm records playing guitar, violin, bass and cello. Following his three year service in the Hungarian army, he left Hungary in 1949 and played for a while with his friend György Cziffra, a pianist, in Austria and Switzerland. After that, he spent more than two years in Lebanon, where he appeared both in dance orchestras and classical orchestras. In 1951, he played in Italy, where he recorded with the pianist and singer Renato Carosone. In 1957, he performed in Spain and Portugal. Finally in 1959, Bacsik started playing jazz in Paris, where he appeared with pianist Art Simmons and bassist Michel Gaudry at the Mars Club near the Champs-Elysées. During his stay in France, he performed with jazz musicians like Clark Terry, Kenny Clarke, Pierre Michelot, Dizzy Gillespie, Lou Bennett, Georges Arvanitas and Quincy Jones as well as with chansonniers like Barbara, Sacha Distel, Serge Gainsbourg, Claude Nougaro, Juliette Gréco and Jeanne Moreau. He successfully adapted Dave Brubeck compositions to the guitar ('Blue Rondo a la Turk', 'Take Five'). Regular TV appearances made him a national celebrity. In 1966 he moved to the United States, where, at first, he played and recorded with gypsy bands and toured with the Bouzouki group led by the Armenian violinist Hrach Yacoubian. Basik settled in Las Vegas, where he recorded TV themes and accompanied singers like Tony Bennett. For a while, he played violin in an orchestra backing Elvis Presley. In 1974, producer Bob Thiele brought him back on the jazz scene: Bacsik played violin at the Newport Jazz Festival with Dizzy Gillespie. He recorded a promotional record ('I Love You') with an all-star ensemble (Oliver Nelson, alto sax, Hank Jones, piano, Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar, Ray Barretto, percussion, Richard Davis, acoustic bass and Elvin Jones, drums) and in 1975 played the electric violin on 'Bird and Diz - a musical tribute'. Thereafter he returned to Las Vegas, where he acted as concertmaster for the orchestra of vocalist Wayne Newton. In 1989, he played at the first jazz festival in Québec, followed by a longer stint at jazz clubs and restaurants in Québec and Montreal (1990/91). In 1991, Bacsik suffered a stroke, paralyzing him partially. He also developed lung cancer, from which he died after returning to the United States.
Elek Bacsik albums
Elek Bacsik discography at Gypsy Jazz Guitar.
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