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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Viktor Tóth, Hamid Drake, Mátyás Szandai - Bringing Light Towards Me (BMC, 2009) ***½

Maybe I exaggerate, but I like albums to have a musical coherence from beginning to end. Variation is needed, and even necessary, but a good album has to offer one line of thought and approach. Despite all the good qualities of the music, that lack of coherence was already and unfortunately one of the shortcomings of Hungarian altoist Viktor Tóth's previous album "Climbing With Mountains", and now it happens again with this album. The first five tracks are a live performance played as a trio, with Hamid Drake on drums and Mátyás Szandai on bass. The music is good, the playing is good, and even on those six tracks, they manage to have this stylistic side-step on the Latin-influenced "The Easiness Of Steps", even if it gives Drake the additional opportunity to demonstrate his skills at the drumset. On the sixth track Ferenc Kovács joins on trumpet and the music's quality increases, adding depth and volume. As of the tenth track, the band expands even further with Mihály Dresch on soprano and flute, Adam Javorka on alto violin, and György Jeszenszky on drums and percussion, giving it a more orchestral perspective, especially when Kovács switches his trumpet for violin, and a more distinct central European flavor. Despite these shifts, each of the three approaches brings worthwhile and sometimes beautiful compositions and playing, but a little more unity would have made this a far better record.

Listen and download from eMusic.

© stef