Friday, October 27, 2006

Eclectic Elek Tricks

Elek Bacsik - Bossa Nova Fontana 460.112 TE (Fra) (1962)

Hungarian guitarist Elek Bacisk was a cousin of Django Reinhardt, but as Bacsik reminded Leonard Feather "we gypsies are all related!" and continued his tradition of blending swing and gypsy elements into a coherent, expressive jazz mode.

Bacsik initially studied classical violin and played gypsy songs in Budapest, then switched to jazz guitar. [In 1975 he recorded a violin album "Bird and Dizzy"]. As a teen, he recorded in a band with alto saxophonist Gabor Szabo and trumpeter Jozsef Quitter, then later toured Europe with Mihaly Tabanyi's band.

Bacsik moved to Paris in 1959, and through the early and mid-'60s recorded and played with visiting American musicians, among them Art Simmons, Quentin Jackson, Lou Bennett and Dizzy Gillespie. He also did sessions heading his own bands. Bacsik emigrated to America in 1966, and worked from 1967-1974 with Teresa Brewer before cutting his own sessions. He appeared at the 1974 Newport Jazz Festival and 1984 Olympic Games Jazz Festival in Los Angeles.

Elek was born in 1926 into a Hungarian gypsy family. He studied the violin at the Conservatory in Budapest but taught himself the guitar and went on to play jazz in Switzerland and France where he played with Dizzie Gillespie.

In 1962 he recorded a LP as leader "The Electric Guitar of the Eclectic Elek Bacsik". On this album his style displays a much closer affinity to Tal Farlow and Johnny Smith than the European gypsy genre where he overdubs a second, mainly rhythm guitar part.

In 1966 he moved to the USA but became submerged in the cabaret scene in Las Vegas. As Leonrad Feather puts it in his liner notes to "Eleck Bacsik: Bird & Dizzy" (Flying Dutchman) 75: "Bacsik was philosophical about the contrast of the matchless talent he displays here [on violin] and the total anonymity of his life in Las Vegas, where he has lived since 1967. "I spent a couple of years at the Riviera Hotel; moved around from one casino to another for a year; spent four years at the Hilton, and for the past year I've been at the Sahara". Asked whether he had ever had a chance to express himself in that so-called entertainment capital of the world, Bacsik promptly replied "No way!" I'd like to play some jazz club, and let the jazz audience hear me at some festivals".

In 1973 he began working with Bob Thiele and released two more LPs as well as playing at the Newport Festival. But just as this seemed to be bringing him to public attention once more he faded back into the shadows. He died in 1991 largely forgotten by the jazz community.

1) Desafinado ''Faits Pour S'aime''
2) Recado ''Loin De Fol''
3) Samba De Una Nota ''Chanson Sur Une Seule Note''
4) Stardust Bossa Nova

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