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Kálman Oláh: Always

Kálman Oláh’s first U.S. release exceeds the high expectations created by his excellent press in Europe and his first prize at the 2006 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Composers Competition. He is a fully developed, finished pianist with a seductive touch and a continuous lyricism on material that never follows a linear process but rather flows and swirls. You can get lost-euphorically lost-in the reveries of Oláh’s music.

He is from Hungary, of Romany (Gypsy) parentage, and graduated from the Béla Bartók Conservatory in Budapest. He is interested in blending jazz with contemporary classical and Hungarian folk music. Paradoxically, these influences are more apparent in Oláh’s interpretations of standards than in his own compositions. For example, “Polymodal Blues (Homage to Béla Bartók)” quickly gets past its allusions to Bartók’s polymodal chromaticism and plunges directly into the blues. But “All of You” and “How My Heart Sings” are syncopated and segmented and transformed by concepts that come from outside jazz.

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