Hidden Roots: Julia Karosi
Label: Dot-Time Records
Julia Karosi, vocals
Aron Talas, piano
Adam Bogothy, bass
Bendeguz Varga, drums
Tobias Meinhart, tenor saxophone
Linda Kovacs, vocals (track 11)
|1||The Miraculous Deer||4:04|
|8||Race Against Time||5:44|
|9||Szol A Kakas Mar||4:59|
|11||Hymn To Love||4:46|
Hidden Roots is an exercise in modern jazz featuring budding Hungarian vocalist Julia Karosi and her trio. Julia's voice is a beautiful instrument that pairs well in vocalese and scatting with Áron Tálas' fine work in piano. Ádam Bögöthy (b) and Bendegúz Varga (b) anchor the foundation and Tobias Meinhart ads sax on five selections. In addition to scatting, Karosi soars on a couple of traditional Hungarian songs performed in native tongue. The sound is refreshing and pleasant introducing us to a fine European artist. Encore!
D. Oscar Groomes, O's Place Jazz Magazine
Hidden Roots is the sophomore effort of Hungarian songstress Julia Karosi. Unlike Chiara Izzi, Karosi focuses on a program of her own compositions and pieces by members of her band, interspersed with some traditional pieces. The album invites the listener outside of Hungry to sample a dynamic musical soundscape, one well worth his acquaintance. “Imhol Kerekedik,” arranged by drummer Bendeguz Varga for example, moves from the singer’s exotic vocalise to some reliable solo work from pianist Aron Talas.
Hidden Roots The Karosi piece that gives the album its title follows a similar route with an ethnic melody, exotic vocalise, and some elegant solo work by the tenor sax of Tobias Meinhart. Meinhart also contributes some fine solo work on “Seed” (which has some English lyrics) and “Race Against Time,” which also gives bassist Adam Bogothy a chance to take center stage.
In the linear notes by David Linx about this very intriguing Hungarian jazz record I read, "…The African-American experience has blessed the whole world with the language of jazz. We all have learned to master, speak and transmit properly by way of diverse cultural expressions. Now we can include Julia Karosi and her wonderful musicians from Hungary in this experience. Each song on this album is a delicious short story that gives a new angle and insight by means of Hungarian lyrics … showing us ….any language can work in jazz music."
I was eager to listen to what Mr. Linx expressed in his linear notes.
From the very first note, I knew that this young lady could sing. I was captivated by her scat tones on "The Miraculous Deer," a song she composed. The next cut was a traditional song of Hungary that Karosi arranged called, "Edesanyam Rozsafaja". I found it hauntingly beautiful. Most of the songs on this album are composed by the artist, Karosi. I commend her composing abilities. As a jazz reviewer, I hear such a plethora of vocalists who are popping out albums like corn kernels at a movie theater, many that are bland as unsalted butter. It's so wonderful to hear a fresh voice that is full bodied, melodic and not nasal, and one that is composing and arranging her own music. Bravo! I don't have to understand the language to feel Karosi's spirit and her music moved me. "Noah's Ark" is harmonically sound as she adds her voice to the horn lines like another instrument. This CD is a joyous experience full of surprises, creativity and an exceptionally strong band composed of Aron Talas on piano, Adam Bogothy on bass, Bendeguz Barga on drums and Tobias Meinhart on tenor saxophone. They prepared a beautiful palate for Julia Karosi to paint her vocal expressions. The title tune of this recording is challenging, uptempo and showcases the vocalist's full range and timing. "Hidden Roots" is a showstopper.
Someone quoted Charles McPherson on this album cover as saying: "Jazz happened in the States!" Although I must concur with Mr. McPherson, I am excited that so many countries and cultures have embraced our unique American art form. They've studied it, listened to it and loved it enough to pursue jazz as an expression of art and freedom worldwide. You see the results of our influence and creativity in Karosi's album. Beautiful work!
Karosi has a lovely voice and she uses her instrument with an infectious creative artistry. Her album and its musical choices suggest very clearly that Hungarian traditions are mine seams waiting for the knowing miner.
Though chanteuse Júlia Karosi is the focal point of Hidden Roots, she chose her ensemble so well that they share the stage charismatically, thus contrasting and amplifying her artistry. Everyone here is youthful and full of energy, something especially seen in Aron Talas' strong hand on the piano but also in Bendeguiz Varga's frequently muscular drumwork. When I tell you that, though, weigh it against Karosi's oft plaintively wistful encantations because therein a perfect balance of strength and vulnerability is achieved, neither overpowering the other for even a moment. In the background, Adam Bogothy plies a bass oft whispering like a susurrating breeze through tree and forest, undulations of gentle waves across the ocean's face…although, when things speed up, as in Floating Island, he too picks up and runs. This is a Hungarian ensemble, and Karosi is widely considered to be one of the country's best singers, something I wouldn't for a moment disagree with. More than once, we're reminded of a cross between Eleni Karaindrou, Flora Purim, and Lani Hall, as Júlia spends much of her time melismatically and with a very interesting interpolation I think will intrigue non-European listeners: when she sings in her native tongue, it very much, to non-Hungarian ears, approaches scat / melisma / non-syllabics, especially in the fashion she inflects it, first seen in Édesanyám rózsafája, a trad opus. What also emerges is an exotic strain more pronouncedly seen in arabesqued musics. The similarities in that cut to ghazals is interesting but the song also shines with New York overtones. Tobias Meinhart bulks the latter up, appearing on tenor sax on half the tracks, Noah's Ark a good example. The echoes in what occurs in Brazilian vocal musics is also a bit intriguing. I would not have been surprised for a moment had the Zoho label released this, so strong is every aspect of the release. Nor is the relation to some of the more sophisticated and worldy progrock ensembles (Turning Point, etc.) and progjazz bands (Michael Urbaniak, etc.) missed. Back then, the timing was wrong, though the fare was superb; now, with the globe shrinking daily, we've entered an age of listener refinement and aesthetic hungers that swiftly overcome earlier unattuned ears. And I predict Mr. Talas will be as much lauded for his leonine work here as Ms. Karosi will be for her seductive, picturesque, soothing vocals…but so will Mr. Varga. I suggest you catch his and Talas' interplay in Imhol Kerekedik…especialy if you dig what Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer used to do.
Oh…and my favorite cut? The title song. Triple sweet and then some.
It’s ear opener time again kids as we find the second outing from one of Hungary’s top jazz vocalists and graduate of the Franz Liszt Music Academy serving us a set where it sounds like Lani Hall channeling Ella Fitzgerald. Not worrying about the language barrier as she scats a whole bunch, there’s a winning contemporary jazz vibe here where you hear echoes of all the stuff you’ve liked over the years jam packed into her originals. Posing no real answer to the question of what is jazz, Karosi and her pals aren’t worried about it in the least---they just play. The boundaries are pushed nicely and not radically, and the chops on display cut across all languages and borders. Check it out.
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher, Midwestrecord.com