Excerpts from: Essay on “Communism and the Emergence of the Central European Jazz School” by Yvetta Kajanová, June 2012

Posted by Rudolf Kraus

published: Journal of Literature and Art Studies, ISSN 2159-5836 June 2012, Vol. 2, No. 6, 622-640



György Szabados played at the San Sebastian Jazz Festival in Spain in the
same year and his quintet won the Grand Prix; George Vukán toured the USA for a month in 1983. Their
approaches represented the post-modern movement in jazz, for they combined jazz with folk elements,
transferred bop rhythmic phrases into jazz-rock electric sound, and built themes on rhythmic groovy fusion music.
They also incorporated the new sound discoveries of free jazz into their musical structures (e.g., Joachim Kühn,
Ulrich Gumperts, and Gabriel Jonáš). All tried out electric keyboards in the spirit of contemporary trends.
Joachim Kühn, for example, transferred from acoustic piano to keyboards and he collaborated and recorded with
such musicians as Don Cherry, Alphonse Mouzon, Billy Cobham, Michael Brecker, Jean-Luc Ponty, Mike Mainieri,
and Eddie Gomez (for an overview of pianists in Central European jazz school, …..


Approaches to Improvisation
A thematic paraphrase of the main chorus and re-development of the motive provided the musical
foundation of the first and second generations of Central European pianists. The third generation of modern jazz
introduced independent pianists, who emphasized their performances, not only in bands, but also more
particularly in solo concerts. The third generation focused on the use of modal improvisation and its combination
with a melodic intonation of traditional Moravian folk music (in the early years Jan Hammer, later Emil Viklický),
on Ugrian metro-rhythm and melodies (György Szabados), and the melodic structures of Slovak folk music.
Folk Inspirations in Hungarian Jazz
György Szabados (b. 1939) is regarded as the father of the Hungarian jazz avant-garde; he was inspired by
Béla Bartók and brought elements of Hungarian folk music into jazz. The Hungarian folk features in his
compositions, according to Igor Wasserberger, are mainly rhythmic base, some keys, and melodic elements
(Matzner, Poledňák, & Wasserberger, 1987, p. 377). His 1975 LP Az esküvö (Wedding) is considered as a
pioneering recording, as he managed, for the first time, to synthethise folk elements and free jazz. Although
Szabados attempted a synthesis of folk music and jazz in his 1960’s concert performances, credit for the first such
Hungarian jazz recording falls to the pianist Béla “Szakcsi” Lakatos whose Variations on Folk Motifs appeared
on the sampler Modern Jazz Antology VI (Qualiton, 1967). Lakatos, a pianist of Romani origin, returned to his
roots in the 1990s when he combined traditional Romani music with jazz ingredients (Havadi, 2010). His
approach produced a fine balance between world music and jazz with ethnic elements.
Even others, like György Szabados and Ján Hajnal, were inspired by Béla Bartók’s