Vienna's Porgy & Bess Jazz Club is approaching its twentieth anniversary as an internationalbut intimatevenue for top jazz talent from Europe and beyond. It's the perfect setting for this live recording from the Lajos Dudas Trio. A Hungarian native living in Germany, clarinetist Dudas is teamed with long-time collaborator, guitarist Phillipp van Endert and bassist Leonard E. Jones. Jonesa seminal member of the AACMhas played with Muhal Richard Abrams, Sonny Simmons and Mal Waldron in the course of his accomplished career. For his part, Dudas has worked with Karl Berger, Albert Mangelsdorff and Attila Zoller among the more familiar names in the U.S. Endert's equally impressive resume includes gigs with Kenny Wheeler, Mike Stern and Danny Gottlieb.
Live at Porgy & Bess features four original tracks penned by Dudas along with an assortment of time-tested standards. Stylistically, the collection strikes its equilibrium between tradition and subtle innovation. The drummer- less trio adeptly sustains a natural connection between the strings and clarinet while allowing each player to move outside their respective comfort zones. The ten-minute opener, "Soft Waves" is a quiet, controlled piece with somewhat more loosely structured solo performances from Dudas and Endert. The pair takes a more forceful approach on "Reni's Ballad" where their improvisations feel more melodically incidental.
Thelonious Monk's "In Walked Bud" gets a multi-faceted treatment from the trio. In a moderate swing tempo, Dudas adds light ornamentation before Endert and Jones take the lead, transforming the piece with a bit of Eastern European folk sentiment. That proves to be another transition leading to Endert's own intricate, fast-paced solo. Covers of George Gershwin's "Embraceable You" and Attila Zoller's "Rumpelstilzchen" are respectful of the original while the improvisations seems to float above the main theme.
As agreeably harmonious as the performances on Live at Porgy & Bess are there is plenty of diversity evident. Among Dudas's original compositions "Maydance" has a distinct samba rhythm while "Back to L.A." is blues inspired and culminates with Endert displaying his rock riffs. Cole Porter's "Night and Day" ends the program with the same amiable vein as it opened. Live at Porgy & Bess is an atmospheric collection with a uniquely direct and lyrical style. Dudas and company consistently instill their sense of melody with subtle swing and pleasant improvisation.
Track Listing: Soft Waves; Reni's Ballad; Homage to O.P.; In Walked Bud; Embraceable You; Rumpelstilzchen; Maydance; Back to L.A.; Night and Day.
Personnel: Lajos Dudas: clarinet; Philipp van Endert: guitar; Leonard Jones: bass.