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Szilárd Mezei Quintet - As You

Grego Edwards, gapplegatemusicreview

Violist-composer Szilard Mezei favors a slightly darker palette than the norm. For a recent album on Leo, We Were Watching the Rain (which I reviewed for Cadence), his ensemble included the lower-registered sounds of the tuba, bass clarinet, and trombone. It may be the the less brilliant, more mellow range of the viola (as compared with the violin) has influenced the group sound he envisions. Whatever the case his music is distinctive in this way, and in other ways as well.

That Leo disc was without a rhythm section and the emphasis was on a chamber kind of sound. The recording we consider today, As You (Ayler, Download Series), includes bass and drums (along with tuba and cello). That addition gives contrast to the end result vis-a-vis the Leo session. It successfully propulses the group further into the free blowing, free rhythm areas of Szilard's stylistic outlook.

The Serbian-Yugoslavian born Mezei plays viola with a kind of presence that brings out the thicker, darker potentialities of the instrument, and of course that fits with the above. The compositions are at least equally important, if not paramount to his musical approach. They are brooding meditations that come alive, enhanced by the group improvisations and solo spotlights that occur as the music unfolds. Everyone in this ensemble is capable of sensitive interplay and that quality is one of the salient aspects of this strong set.

If I am not wrong, we have not heard the last from Szilard Mezei. Growth seems inevitable. As You not only shows the artists' potential. It is a fully formed, dramatic statement and a musical document that absorbs the sympathetic listener at every turn.