June 2017, Best Jazz Album of the Month: Titok by Ferenc Snétberger

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Readers of this blog should have noticed that in the last few weeks I’m talking often about this artist and his last fantastic record. As a matter of fact, from the first moments I came across with Titok, the recent album that the Hungarian artist Ferenc Snétberger has released for ECM, I became a fervent sponsor of this LP and practically I mention it in any article about jazz I write for the blog. And I will continue to do so, also because I’m about to publish the list of the top ten Jazz albums of the first half of 2017, and I can anticipate that this work has quickly won a position in this ranking. As a side note: the album has been officially released at the end of April, but I managed to get a copy only a few weeks ago and I couldn’t miss the chance to give it the reward it deserved.

Titok is an ode to guitar. Snétberger is playing this instrument since almost 50 years (his biography states that he had classical guitar lessons from 1970) and throughout his career he has been exploring many different styles and influences (from the ‘hot‘ jazz guitar of “Django” Reinhardt to Latin American musics, passing through US jazz and European classical traditions). Well, what we hear in this record seems to be a point of arrival for all these different experiences he had so far and the album certainly represents an important chapter in the artist’s career.

“Alom” on the present disc is an adaptation of an old theme referencing Roma music, while “Orange Tango” and “Renaissance” acknowledge their inspirational sources in their titles. Yet none of these pieces sounds “eclectic”, the diverse sources are integrated organically inside Snétberger’s music, and accessed readily through the guitar. (snetberger.com)

In order to record this album, Ferenc Snétberger joined with Swedish bassist Anders Jormin and US drummer Joey Baron. Titok marks the first time they have played together on an album, but it is evident that a special chemistry was generated among these musicians. Snétberger and Jormin, in particular, often find themselves exploring the most hidden facets of the main melodies, and it seems like they really played together since a long time from the way the two complement each other without any hesitation.

From a musical point of view the songs of Titok belong to two main categories: there are same old Snétberger’s tunes that are reinterpreted (magistrally) by the trio, along with new compositions where the three musicians are more oriented towards improvisation. There is, however, a consistency of style that makes it an absolutely homogeneous record and in its essence the album can also be seen as a single continuous music stream. The atmospheres created by the guitarist and his comrades are typically warm and gentle, and everything seems made with the precise will to enhance the poetic sound of the guitar and the beautiful melodic lines of which the disc is full. That’s a very good release, for both lovers of jazz guitar and also those causal listeners who simply want to approach a beautiful musical experience.

The title-track song of the album was featured as the opening track of my recent mixtape dedicated to Jazz guitar, you may enjoy it from the widget below.

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