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Szilárd Mezei Quintet - As You

Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes

There is some serious grit to be found in this quintet's music, comprising Szilárd Mezei on viola and kaval, Albert Márkos on violoncello, Kornél Pápista on tuba, Ervin Malina on bass and István Csik on drums.

Mezei, who was born in an independent area of the Serbian Republic named Senta, is the composer of the four extended tracks on the CD, yet he sounds just as a nominal leader in a finely balanced group that repeatedly crosses the boundaries of everything standing in between free jazz and folk tunes, all the while showing a galvanizing fury that after a few minutes makes us feel invigorated to the point of enthusiasm.

Mezei's intricate lines draw inspired diagonals and oblong protuberances amidst Csik's rabid drumming in "Outside the game" (which is opened by a great solo by Malina), eventually managing to join Márkos' cello in a series of parallelisms leading towards a serene detachment from the by now remote concept of "tonality". And when the going gets really tough, the tough get going: Pápista enters the scene in the second half of the CD, both in "Rain, rain, rain" (the most nostalgic theme on offer, by the way, even if it soon gets disintegrated into cells and particles) and "Thistle", his tuba reinforcing the collective's tissue with a powerful presence that not only helps his companions in their vigorous statements, but causes an impressive augmentation of the sonic mass' thickness, which doesn't contrast the ensemble's struggle to preserve the spirit and the fervour animating every minute of this material.

Believe me, it won't take long before you're hooked: when musicians are still hungry, we can even keep calling this damn thing "jazz".