I was about three years old when my father played an unknown music on the
tape recorder for me. It was a congregation of the American black
people – one part of it was speech, followed by a rhythmic song with
a few instrumental
accompaniment. My feet were moving rhythmically, and He told me:
"Listen, my son, this is jazz!" I have become initiated this way,
but it was the same
with the other genres, too, from the folk to Bartók. (How strange
that while I am writing these lines I am just travelling through
the desert of Arizona
towards New Orleans with Kálmán Balogh and the others.) My career
was predestined from this day. Nursery school of music and ballet.
Miss Irma Bors, Kodály’s
kindest student in the primary school. It happened two times that
I was the one to sing the solo on the old Master's birthday in his
house at the Körönd.
I started to play the piano at the age of 6, then – because of the
too strict teaching methods (tearing my hair, pulling my ear, slapping,
ass) – I exchanged it for the violin with Miss Izabella Vinkovits
(Miss Bella). I loved her but she could not teach me to play the
violin because of my own
obstinacy. Later the same thing happened to me in the case of my
trumpet teachers. I brought down every possible people’s wrath on
me. I was a secondary school
student when we slipped in the Erkel Theatre with a ticket we had
drawn for ourselves to hear Dizzie Gillespi. I enrolled at once to
play the trumpet
at Mr. Tivadar Sztán in the 5th district. An abbreviated course in
the Béla Bartók Conservatory, and then the Ferenc Liszt Music Teacher
followed. I put myself down for every existing course (from singing
to English), and hardly but I finished in the end. Popular Theatre
Dance Ensemble, Postás
Symphonic Orchestra (Matáv), and then the military service followed.
Two years and two months, but in a good place, at the Honvéd Symphonic
course, after the military training and the three months punishment.
This meant that I was attached with some gipsies coming from prisons,
who I made
very good friends after a little introductory fight. I had experiences
in church, theatrical, beat, chamber, experimenting, and studio music,
is common with musicians at this age. Anyway, the free-improvisational
workshops had the greatest instructional effect on me. Besides my
own experiments the
15-20 years I spent with György Szabados piano artist, among others
in the MAKÚZ ensemble (Hungarian Royal Court Orchestra), are important.
Practice in repetitive music in Group No180. I enjoyed the production
of Steve Reich’s
"Tehillim" at the Academy of Music (I performed the composition on
the vibraphone as a member of the Amadinda Percussions Ensemble.)
It was not
a less interesting
adventure when on another occasion I played the cimbalom in Terry
Riley's composition titled "In C".
In 1980 we founded the Budapest Ragtime Band and I became a very important
member of it. I instrumented more than 80 compositions for the
ensemble, we invented a lot of ideas and jokes, and we made tours
in many countries.
The composition of the band was always changing and after 15 years
I also was dropped out, by now only the clarinettist remained of
the old members
as a memorial. Mihály Dresch invited me into his Quartet, and I
had to take playing the violin seriously again. He is the most
of the Hungarian jazz, and by his consistent, unshakable work over
20 years he achieved that he is the leader of the strongest band
thinking and playing
in a Hungarian way. The Gipsy Cimbalom Band was set up by my friend
Kálmán Balogh and me for an audience for just one occasion in '93,
and we have
been travelling all over the world since then. We play the Hungarian,
gipsy, and other neighbouring folks’ music, in a special mixture,
because we take
delight in it. We play compositions which need an extremely high
level of knowledge of the instrument very easily, and we always
achieve success with
our informality (anyway this is a wandering life). Playing alone
on the stage is not only the hardest but also the most wonderful
Gerzson Péter Kovács's Tranz Danz dance ensemble I had the possibility
several times to do so, and I determined to try some thrilling.
In the meanwhile my own style, my own ideas about the instruments
and music were
and then by my mother's seventieth birthday I made my solo album
titled "Magony". I first met my friend Attila Égerházi guitarist,
music, in the mid '90s. We tried different formations, and then
the first Djabe CD was made, which was followed by several successful
I did not play on them). After a serious transformation we formed
the orchestra of present day which is devoted to do great things
both in its musical quality
and its theatrical appearance. You can play music with your friends
and you can make friends in connection with music. So I play with
painter (Tereskova), ef Zámbó Öcsi (Happy Dead Band), Pocsolyás
form the VW service and so on.
There are many wonderful moments and funny experiences in the life of a musician
over the years. We gave the first jazz concert in Tibet with the
Dresch Quartet in Lhasa, which is now under Chinese domain. We had
a performance in a Californian
city (Old City) and in the break we went wash gold in the creek nearby.
A black fisherman was staring at us strangely, and we started to
feel ashamed when he explained that there is more gold after storms.
In the capital
Ujguria, Ürümcsi, in the Opera House we performed a street theatrical
version of Sándor Petőfi's "The Hammer of the Village" with a great
success. In Peking
I made a Hungarian fish soup, besides playing music, in Miss Jin
Xing, a dancer's restaurant, who had been a man some years before.
I played in palaces and
in dusty streets to both ministers and criminals. I ate cherry from
the same bowl with Pharoah Sanders on the jazz festival in Paris.
I could made records
with my earlier idols (Roscoe Mitchell, Archie Shepp saxophonists).
Recently I forced a CD to the main district attorney of the USA,
in the Paprika Restaurant
in Chicago. Some years ago there was much ado in Louisiana in the
Hilton Hotel, because Muhammad Ali had announced his return in jest.
We go with the gipsy
boys into the bar at night, and there is great exclamation, waving,
so I thought we were mistaken for the old guy (our guitarist is a
quite stout fellow),
but we were not! They had listened to the concert we held in the
synagogue. In Germany I made the tour instead of lying with a limb
in a plaster of Paris.
In San Rafael, while we were playing a Macedonian "belly dance",
I jumped off from the stage to a table to play a Hungarian folk song.
That single strophe
would have been worth for the wage of 12 hours work at home. In Brussels
we were playing on some prince's wedding, and one of favourites,
the pickled herring was offered, which made our double baser to vomit.
seafood. Anyway I do like it! Although I have not eaten so many lobsters
even in Japan, as on a ship in Budapest when were playing with the
Latin Combo Band for a Hungarian mafia leader. I have also been to
Corleone, as the last
stage of our Sicilian tour, where the "headquarters staff" had listened
to us before - I think - they gave their agreement to it. We have
made a successful
forced landing with Mesan Waszlawik bass guitarist’s helicopter near
In Kazahsztán the hygiene was so bad that the first evening we drank
four litres of brandy, for disinfecting. On the Canary Islands we
were surfing the waves for a whole month, when the owner of the lending
the bar and we got acquainted. Next day we got a surf from him for
free. We gave it back to him after a half hour. - Well, it is easy,
you cannot play,
just sit on the board and it takes you to the shore! - We have given
the strongest free musical concert with the MAKÚZ in the Art Gallery
in Szombathely, its
title was "Watching into the well". It lasted from A.M. 10 to P.M.
9. It was a really fantastic experience. We made rehearsals regularly
over several years
in the then Kassák Club, and many times we made recordings, too.
These were the greatest musical pieces, although they were not published
know that the clear sounds and the authentic resonations do not cease
to exist but they can still be heard somewhere in the ethereal