Béla Szakcsi Lakatos meant for the listener to choke in the frolic of fragrant standards when he and his colleagues so named this recording: Density of Standards and that is exactly what we have here: A recording that leaves us breathless; choking in gold. The pianist is, of course, at times his old self, playing in bejewelled phrases encrusted upon filigreed runs and glorious arpeggios with his right and, at times, his left as well; when it is not employed playing dark and light chords, chasing away root notes and replacing them with mighty harmonics behind Christophe Monniot’s alto saxophone. Through it all the listener is left blinded by dazzling runs played by Mr Monniot who sometimes bends notes in phrases adorned with his own sublime glissandos.
Density of Standards is a recording that unfolds in a tantalisingly slow manner. The surprises, when they come, are also languorous and discreet: “Summertime” is, for instance, not simply melancholic – some may say, as Gershwin really intended it to be – but also almost disjunctive; following the line of the lyrics and the narrative more strictly and certainly more dirge-like in its purported elegy than what is more romantically assumed in the pastiche of some Broadway performances. In the pianism one might also hear the ghostly refrains of a gamelan orchestra, especially when the right hand climbs into the upper register to traipse across the keyboard in skittering triplets (“Mood Indigo”). Here too the blues might be set aflame in the delicate curlicue of a bass-line from József Barcza Horváth, who is always so sublimely in charge; just as Elemér Balázs is in his hushed whispering percussion.
The instinct for musicality is ever-present in the pianism of Béla Szakcsi Lakatos. A crafty instrumentalist, the pianist is an introvert and miniaturist, infusing conventional forms – he might easily slip into a stride-like style (“Bye Bye Blackbird”) – while still suggesting Satie-like refrains of dissonance, with an intimacy and an emotional intensity that can only be described as the poetry of feeling. Long after this disc is buried in the avalanche of other recordings of standards. Béla Szakcsi Lakatos’ delicacy of touch and elegance of conception is matchless; the shimmering passage work and his unforced rubato effortlessly convey the music’s evanescent brilliance. Together with Béla Szakcsi Lakatos, the playing of Christophe Monniot, József Barcza Horváth and Elemér Balázsalso sparkles with life.
Track list – 1: Someday My Prince Will Come; 2: Body and Soul; 3: Summertime; 4: Mood Indigo; 5: Bye Bye Blackbird; 6: Autumn Leaves; 7: Green Dolphin Street; 8: Over the Rainbow; 9: Days of Wine and Roses
Personnel – Béla Szakcsi Lakatos: piano; Christophe Monniot: alto saxophone; József Barcza Horváth: contrabass; Elemér Balázs: drums
Released – 2017
Label – BMC Records
Runtime – 1:01:54