Gabor Szabo

Gabor Szabo, born 8 March 1936, died 26 February 1982. He was a Hungarian jazz guitarist who is best known for his mix of jazz, pop-rock, and Hungarian music. Born in Budapest, Szabo began playing guitar when he was 14 years old. He was inspired by the jazz music broadcast on Voice of America. In 1956, during a period of attempted rebellion against Soviet-dominated Communist rule in Hungary, Szabo fled Hungary and moved to America. He attended the Berklee School of Music, Boston. He was invited to the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958. From 1961 to 1965, Szabo was a member of the Chico Hamilton quintet. He co-founded, with Cal Tjader (now Gary McFarland), the Skye record label in the late 1960s. Szabo recorded his Skye album in October 1969 and November 1969 with Lena Horne. Szabo was part of Horne’s backing band at The Nugget in Nevada, November 1966, and at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, September 1969. His playing included elements of folk music from Hungary as well as rock music’s use feedback. Santana’s 1970 hit “Gypsy Queen” was his composition (see Black Magic Woman). Szabo’s album Impulse!, Wind, Sky And Diamonds features “The California Dreamers”, an ensemble of Ron Hicklin, Al Capps, Loren Faber, Loren Farber, John Bahler, Tom Bahler, Ian Freebairn Smith, Sally Stevens, Sue Allen, and Jackie Ward. He performed solo with such artists as Ron Carter and Paul Desmond, Lena Horne, Bobby Womack, and others. Gabor felt that he wasn’t fully accepted in America as a jazz musician. He complained to the audience during a 1977 performance at the Catamaran Hotel, San Diego about George Benson’s success in “Breezin” (composer Bobby Womack). He said that he had previously recorded the song and that Benson had basically taken the arrangement. You can hear his version on the High Contrast album featuring Bobby Womack. In 1982, he died in Budapest from liver and kidney disease. He was on a trip to Hungary to seek treatment for his drug addiction that he had been fighting for many years. Wikipedia

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