Eastern Boundary Quartet
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Eastern Boundary Quartet

Budapest, Budapest, Hungary | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | SELF

Budapest, Budapest, Hungary | SELF
Established on Jan, 2006
Band Jazz World

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Apr
23
Eastern Boundary Quartet @ jazz club bamberg

bamberg, Bavaria, Germany

bamberg, Bavaria, Germany

Apr
22
Eastern Boundary Quartet @ jazzforum bayreuth

Bayreuth, Bavaria, Germany

Bayreuth, Bavaria, Germany

Apr
20
Eastern Boundary Quartet @ Budapest Jazz Club

Budapest, NC

Budapest, NC

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Az Icicles az Eastern Boundary Quartet 2008-as, azonos cimO debOtal6 lernezenek szerves, ertelemszerO folytatasa. Az attributumait tekintve kOliinbiizo, lelki vilagukat nezve viszont felWlenOI rokon ket rnuzsikusdu6 olyan formaci6va erett, melynek egyszerOen kiitelezo volt ujabb lemezzel eloallni: tul j61 mOkiidnek ahhoz, hogy egylemezes csapat rnaradjanak. A piros-feher-ziild sarokban Borbely Mihaly szaxofonos es Bagyi Balazs dobos foglal helyet, a csillagos-savosban Michael Jefry Stevens zongorista es Joe Fonda bogos, de mihelyt hangszereiket kezbe veszik, kiirre zarul kiirOliittOk a
,
negysziig. Epp annyira nem szamft, hogy Bagyi
Balazs nagyjab61 husz tavasszal kevesebbet latott meg harom kollegajanal, mint az, hogy a tengerentuli rnOveszeknek annak idejen olyan 6riasokkal volt m6djuk egyOtt jatszani, mint Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Srnith vagy Michael Whitecage (Stevens Sir Roland Hanna, Jirnrny Heath es Donald Byrd tanitvanya volt), sot az sem, hogy a hazai kettos, kOliiniisen Borbely Mihaly a kelet-eur6pai nepzenei formanyelvet szOksegszerOen, behozhatatlanul nagyobb melysegben ismeri. Az amerikaiak rendkivOli alazattal es beleerzessel sz61altatjak meg Borbely Borders es Transylvania Blues, illetve Zoller Attila Hungarian Jazz Rhapsody cimO kompozici6it, ami nyilvan nagyobb meglepetes, rnint hogy a rnagyarok virtu6z m6don, szarnyal6 kiinnyedseggel vagy epp zabolatlansaggal adjak elo a Fonda es Stevens altai hozott neha avantgard, neha pedig felettebb lirai szarnokat. A darabok egymasutanja rnegsern rajzol pepita kepet - teljesen egyseges, szep ivO album az Icicles, melynek meghallgatasakor cseppet sem erezzOk a jegcsap hidegseget, inkabb csak annak csillogasat latjuk magunk elott.

Konnex KeD 5258

- ~ Bercesi Barbara




2011. november 26. -
szerzoZipernovszky Kornél -
forrásFidelio -
Hozzászólás

Két amerikai két amerikaival (Conference Call), elotte két magyarral játszik (Eastern Boundary Quartet) a BJC-ben. VIDEÓVAL

Igaz, az egyik amerikai a második amerikai párosból legalább félig német. Gebhard Ullmann ugyanis olyan tempóban váltogatja fellépései helyszínét, hogy mind Berlint, mind New York-ot (zenei) otthonának mondhatja. Az ötvennégy éves, Bonnban született klarinétos szaxofonos és fuvolista elképeszto tempóban dolgozik. Az útkereso, bátor felfogású zenék muveloi közül olyan sok mindenkivel dolgozott együtt, hogy annak akár rövid áttekintése is szinte lehetetlen lenne. Utoljára Magyarországon egy klarinéttrió trió tagjaként a Gödörben szerepelt.

A kvartett dobosa a november végi koncerten a New York-i George Schuller (53), aki történetesen Gunther Schuller nagyhatású zeneszerzo, zenekarvezeto fia. Schuller több saját formációt is vezet, az egyikben Fonda, a másikban Ullmann is tag, a dobos többek között Joe Lovanóval, Lee Konitz-cal és Dave Douglas-szel is dolgozott korábban. A kvartett 2007-ben, Krakkóban adott koncerje tavaly jelent meg dupla CD-n, What about ...? címmel a lengyel NotTwo kiadónál, ez már a hatodik lemezük. A Conference Call 1998 óta muködik, és a dobos ugyan gyakran cserélodik (Matt Wilson, Han Bennink és Gerry Hemmingway is játszott már velük), de Ullmann, Stevens és Fonda állandó tagok. A Conference Call mozgalmas költészetét jól példázza a zongorista, Michael Jefry Stevens szerzeménye (Poetry in Motion), amely egy korábbi lemezük címadó száma.

A BJC-ben már szólóban is bemutatkozott Michael Jefry Stevens és Joe Fonda bogos régóta és sokat játszik együtt, egy csomó felállásban, gyakran turnéznak úgy, hogy közben váltogatják partnereiket, tulajdonképpen ez történik a Conference Call turnéjának hazai állomásán is. Azonban mégis más a helyzet azért, mert Stevens és Fonda magyar partnereikkel Eastern Boundary Quartet néven már igazi zenekarnak tekinthetok, csak az utazási költségek miatt ritkán turnéznak - viszont néha szükségbol kisebb felállásban is vállalnak fellépést.
Eastern Boundary Quartet

A hatvanéves New York-i születésu Stevens az amerikai jazz kísérletezo vonalának szinte teljes gárdájával játszott az utóbbi évtizedekben, többnyire a vele egyidos bogos barátjával együtt. A hosszú listából könnyu olyan neveket szemezgetni, akiket a hazai jazzközönség is megismerhetett már, Mezei Szilárd mellett ott található Dave Liebman, Mark Whitecage, Dave Douglas, Steve Turre és Valerij Ponomarjev neve. Szerzoként legalább ilyen magasan jegyzett, szinte mufajra és minden felállásra - klasszikusokra is - írt darabokat, témákat.

Az Eastern Boundary-val már két lemezt is kiadtak, elsosorban a német piacra szánva. A két amerikai Borbély Mihállyal és Bágyi Balázssal eloször a Nyitott Muhelyben koncertezett, az alapveto ismerkedés után bátrsan belevágva a kiszámíthatalanba. Nyilvánvaló, hogy a két közép-európai és a két amerikai zenész kultúrájuk termékeny konfliktusára építette a koncepciót. A nehézségek ellenére már megvalósult európai és amerikai turnék bebizonyították, hogy a kvartett a határokon átnyúlóan is életképes, izgalmas zenéjük sok helyen talált kedvezo fogadtatásra. A kultúrsokk bizonyára erosen motiválta Fonda szerzeményét, melynek címe Halleves (esetleg Halászlé). Az alábbi videó koncertfelvétel, de a szerzemény az Icicles címu tavaly megjelent CD-jükön is szerepel.

- ~ Budapest Fidelio


Of all the formations that have characterized improvisation at least since the Bop era, the most common has been that of one reed player along with piano, bass and drums. Just because it’s unexceptional doesn’t mean every session has to be identical however, especially if the meeting ground is original compositions. As these quartet discs demonstrate, plenty of variations are available, even if the form prods participants towards a mainstream orientation.

With its music somewhere in between these two previous discs, and with an inside-outside quality, is the aptly named Eastern Boundary Quartet, a working unit since 2007. Two of its members are American veterans and long-time playing partners: bassist Joe Fonda and pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, who together or alone work regularly with players such as German reedman Gerald Ullman. Their lesser-known – in the West – compadres are Hungarian. Mihály Borbély plays alto saxophone and tarogato and Balázs Bágyi is on drums. Borbély teaches at both the Béla Bartók Conservatory and the Ferenc Liszt Music Academy, and has worked with musicians as different as the ROVA Saxophone Quartet and flautist Herbie Mann. Someone who also works in theatre music and takes Jazz gigs, Bágyi is a mamber of the Magyarvista Social Club, a 31-member Hungarian World Music orchestra.

Stevens is another commanding piano soloist with the experience that makes him an equally sensitive accompanist. On Icicles he effortlessly slides from the gentle impressionism of his self-composed title tune to tougher syncopation on more blues-oriented material. Furthermore he can offhandedly use slinky tremolos for effect in the piano’s mid-section, without letting the rhythm lag. Fonda too is assured. He quotes Oscar Pettiford’s “Blues in the Closet” in his rhythmic introduction to the band’s treatment of Atilla Zoller’s “Hungarian Jazz Rhapsody”; and on his own “Fish Soup” uses solid thumps and echoing lines to set up Borbély’s double puffing and extended flutter tonguing. Borbély’s reed lines throughout are distinctive, sticking to the alto saxophone’s highest register – or perhaps actually playing soprano saxophone – for melodic interludes. Meanwhile he uses narrowed tarogato tones and frenetic triple-tonguing to keep the momentum going on Balázs’ “Soft BalkanWinds”, which actually is blown along via the drummer’s primitivist beats.
“Borders”, again composed by Borbély is the most fully realized performance. In part it’s a Fonda showcase with the bassist’s runs scurrying from super-speedy to walking to strained strums, as well as exposing additional tones and partials. Still ample room is available for the composer and pianist. Stevens’ muscular patterns, cascading chords and repetitive key clipping pave the way for Borbély’s slithering split tones, as the reed man elaborates a melody which almost sounds Scottish.

--Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Icicles: 1. Fish Soup 2. Icicles) 3. Soft Balkan Wind 4. Borders 5. China 6. Hungarian Jazz Rhapsody 7. Transylvania Blues
Personnel: Icicles: Mihály Borbély (alto saxophone and tarogato); Michael Jefry Stevens (piano); Joe Fonda (bass) and Bágyi Balázs (drums)

- ~ Ken Waxman - Jazzword - January 2012


This is the second disc by the Eastern Boundary Quartet and it was recorded live in Budapest, Hungary (where two of these members are from) in October of 2009. The personnel remains Mihaly Borbely on sax & tarogato, Michael J. Stevens on piano, Joe Fonda on bass and Balasz Bahyi on drums. Each member of the quartet contributes a song or two plus there is one cover by another (relatively well known) Hungarian jazz guitarist & composer - Attila Zoller. Joe Fonda is one of the best bassists I know, his infectious groove and tone kick off this spirited disc in the best way possible. The first tune is called "Fish Soup" and it Joe's piece with his bass pumping at the center. The interplay between the soprano sax and piano is just incredible, both spinning together tightly while the rhythm team provides intense propulsion underneath. The title track was written by Michael Jefry Stevens and it is laid back and lovely with some exquisite soprano and piano. "Soft Balkan Wind" features some mellow snake-charming-like tarogato over a a hypnotic sort-of middle-eastern groove. Attila Zoller's "Hungarian Jazz Rhapsody" is a most enchanting song with a sly note-bending solo from Mihaly on soprano sax and a magical harp-like solo from Mr. Stevens on piano. This disc concludes with another somber work called "Transylvania Blues" which is not that blues-like yet it is calm and lovely. I am not so sure that Michael J. Stevens and Joe Fonda are mellowing out as elders in the jazz world, but it does seem that way when we listen to this superb and often sublime disc. -
- ~ Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery


This exciting international quartet consists of bassist Joe Fonda and his frequent collaborator — pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, in conjunction with Hungarians jazzers Mihaly Borbely on soprano sax and Balazs Begyi on drums, while this recording was recorded live in Budapest. Fonda's "Fish Soup" is a great starting off point — its driving pulse bass riff (in 11/4?) &8212 pushed by Begyi's aggressive drumming — allows for enthusiastic free form improvisation by pianist Stevens and saxophonist Borbely. Fonda takes an energetic solo before the band goes into the Stevens-penned title track — a 10:05 showcase for this stunning keyboard player to show his melodic side after the wild angular cascades of the first tune. Borbely's sax here caresses Stevens' melody leading into the pianists' creative and heartfelt solo. The Hungarian contigent also brings their own compositions to the proceedings: Bagyi's "Soft Balkan Wind" is a nice Eastern-tinged duet between the drummer and saxophonist, while Borbely's "Borders" goes even further into Eastern modality, with Stevens adding choice chord clusters. Fonda's "China" does indeed echo misty images of that nation in its deliberate pace and angular melodies. The band covers Hungarian jazz guitar great Atilla Zoller's vibrant "Hungarian Jazz Rhapsody" with zeal. The group ends the recording with Borbely's "Transylvania Blues," which seamlessly merges North American blues with the sounds of the Black Sea region. An exceptional release replete with excellent musical collaboration between the east and west.
- ~ Brad Walseth - Jazz Chicago.net


The Eastern Boundary Quartet consists of Mihály Borbély, Michel Jefry Stevens, Joe Fonda, and Balázs Bágyi, and together they unite in sound with a Middle Eastern tone in their style of jazz, with the album Icicles (Konnex). Individually they create incredible music, and Stevens seems to never stop working (I continue to get new music from him on a regular basis, and here’s yet another one, which I’m more than happy to listen to) so by this being a continuation of their individual work, they’ve managed to meet at this crossroads to create a moving album.

It’s moving musically, in that they speak to each other musically and culturally. Recorded live in Budapest, Hungary, you hear a meeting of the minds, one that you may never see or hear politically but should. It’s music without borders, but in many ways most music is borderless, but they express their stories and experiences through songs like “Hungarian Jazz Rhapsody”, “Soft Balkan Wind”, “Fish Soup”, and the appropriately titled “Borders”. Some of the stories may be those told in code, in the form of the music. There’s a bit of sorrow here and there, but the optimism is in the way they play and how they get from one point of the song to the other. You almost don’t want to reach the destination, but that can be considered a way to regroup and start a new story.

- ~ John Book - This is Book's Music


Bassist/composer Joe Fonda continues to enjoy a most eclectic career. Whether in collaboration with saxophonist Anthony Braxton, or leading an international group comprised of musicians from Europe and China, Fonda is never far from the bleeding edge of creative improvisation. In its second outing, the Eastern Boundary Quartet continues to connect musical worlds and styles. Frequent colleague Michael Jefry Stevens (piano), and two exceedingly skilled Hungarians, Balazs Bagyi (drums) and Mihaly Borbely (saxophones), are onboard with Fonda, with Borbely's tarogato (a Hungarian woodwind) adding much of the ethnic color to this collection. Though not without its free aspects, Icicles is one of the most accessible and creative collections in Fonda's discology.

Fonda's “Fish Soup” opens the set and is its most overtly free piece, beginning with a brief rhythmic duet between the bassist and Bagyi. Borbely and Stevens enter, pushing the pace up to a near-feverish level, before each player gets some upfront time. Fonda shines in his two-minute solo, slowing the tempo and segueing nicely into the title track. The ten-minute, down-tempo title track features some beautiful work from Stevens, augmented soulfully by Borbely. “Soft Balkan Wind” follows and is the first piece to be distinctly flavored by Eastern Europe's traditional sound, yet still incorporating free improvisation before it closes. Similarly, “Borders” begins with ethnic influences out in front, before becoming something of a free jazz clinic, slightly dissonant but pleasing as well.

The remaining three compositions are more focused on harmony, though they are intricate in structure. “China” has stylistic elements of its namesake culture, and Stevens creates a mysterious, elegiac atmosphere that recalls pianist Keith Jarrett's “A Pagan Hymn,” from In the Light (ECM, 1974). A cover of Hungarian-born guitarist Attila Zoller's “Hungarian Jazz Rhapsody” is another exceptional example of the successful merging of influences, ending with Borbely's Romani-like flair. The mid-tempo closer, “Transylvania Blue,” is the collection's most straight-out melodic piece; despite being a Borbely composition, Fonda and Stevens make it theirs, each demonstrating a controlled intensity that simmers just below the surface.

Cross-cultural referencing is certainly not new to jazz, but, nevertheless, each expedition represents a journey into uncharted terrain. Simply incorporating native instruments can be an obvious placeholder, but often serves as only a token of thematic intention. Combined with the premise of improvisation, the integration of ethnic or folkloric themes can be a more thorny issue, as it's easier to lose the thread in the complex goings-on. Icicles represents a brilliant foray into a unique area. The compositions, with the exception of the Zoller piece, are all written by group members, and are open and adventurous--just what would be hoped for--in a musical travelogue containing some of these musicians' finest playing.


- ~ By Karl Ackermann "All about Jazz"



(Mihály Borbély – saxophone, tárogató; Michael Jefry Stevens – piano; Joe Fonda – bass; Balázs Bágyi – drums)


Jazz of course has an international language: the music has no set limits and has proven to be an art form that can be taught and performed by anyone anywhere. But that evident truism is not always displayed in a truly commingled approach.

The Eastern Boundary Quartet – Hungarians Mihály Borbély on soprano saxophone and tárogató with drummer Balázs Bágyi alongside New Yorkers Michael Jefry Stevens (piano) and bassist Joe Fonda – is an exceptional demonstration of cross cultural and multinational talent who work well together whenever an opportunity arises. Stevens and Fonda are co-leaders of the Fonda/Stevens Group and both stay busy with other projects; Borbély and Bágyi are important mainstays of the Hungarian jazz scene.

The foursome’s sophomore release, Icicles, bridges the gap between European and American jazz styles as well as merging jazz with Hungarian folk influences. The ensemble’s various inspirations shine on all seven pieces, recorded live in Budapest in November, 2009. The title track, written by Stevens, starts with a quiet piano introduction that has a slightly classical bent, which is echoed when Fonda and Borbély enter and develop the tune’s lyrical melodicism. The lengthy ballad is a beautiful late-night excursion that has a bit of Bill Evans in its structure and content.

The Hungarian element comes to the foreground on Bágyi’s aptly-named “Soft Balkan Wind,” a duet that features the drummer and Borbély, who uses the tárogató, a Hungarian wind instrument with a single reed that in this case has a tone between clarinet and sax. While Bágyi maintains a mid-tempo rhythm, Borbély performs a mournful and lightly melancholy solo that occasionally slips into the free jazz territory utilized by another well-known tárogató player, Peter Brötzmann. Open-ended jazz improvisation takes a stronger leap on Borbély’s “Borders,” which includes a preliminary drum section, an extended bass statement and some underlying, dissonant piano.

Fonda provides two cinematic cuts. The sublime and deliberately paced “China” has an exotic quality highlighted by Fonda’s atmospheric bass, Borbély’s moody sax and Stevens’ single-note keyboard contributions. “Fish Soup” has a post-bop inclination and solid groove with lots of room for Borbély’s soprano sax, which sometimes resonates with a Steve Lacy likeness.

The only cover is a rendition of Atilla Zoller’s mid-tempo post bopper, “Hungarian Jazz Rhapsody,” previously redone by guitarist Mitch Seidman. The traditionally-minded tune is a perfect accommodation for the band: everyone supplies solos or supportive backing that further fortifies the quartet’s jazz credentials. The piece ends with an upbeat and cheerful conclusion. The final number is Borbély’s brooding “Transylvania Blues,” an overcast ballad showcased by Fonda’s resounding bass lines and Stevens’ collaborative piano skills.

Although this album connects two worlds (Hungary and America) jazz fans who don’t usually appreciate world fusion music should not shy away from this project, since the majority of the material preserves a friendly contemporary jazz sound.
- Doug Simpson for Audiophile Audition


Pianist Michael Jefry Stevens has enjoyed a prolific musical journey but collaboration could be seen as the inspiration behind his music. Each project Stevens participates in offers a different framework to explore his compositional and improvisational ideas.

On the eponymous debut of the Eastern Boundary Quartet, the music literally crosses international boundaries as Stevens, along with bassist Joe Fonda, collaborates with Hungarian musicians Balazs Bagyi (drums) and Mihaly Borbel (sax). This live recording is a musical quilt combining the spirit of jazz with the distinctive nature of Hungarian music. The disc begins with "Song for My Mother," a Fonda composition, that starts off plaintively, building to an insistent crescendo and ending with masterful drum work. "The End Game," a Latin-flavored Stevens piece, features a melodic, virtuosic solo from Fonda and on "Tuzugras/Fire Jumping," the quartet exhibits an uncanny energy and drive. Rounding out the disc is an improvisational piece and Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue". With two American and two Hungarian musicians, the Eastern Boundary Quartet is a musical melting pot of the best kind.
- Karen Hogg - All About Jazz


Recorded live at Nyitott Muhely, Budapest on May 12, 2007.
Featuring Mihaly Borbely on soprano sax, Michael Jefry Stevens on piano, Joe Fonda on acoustic bass and Balazs Bagyi on drums.

Every few months, downtown bassist supreme, Joe Fonda leaves us with a new CD and each time I am surprised to get another gem. Sometimes it is another version of great Fonda/Stevens Group and sometimes it features lesser-known musicians. And every time, I smile at the results. I can’t say that I’ve heard of either of these fine Hungarian musicians, but again I am pleased to hear some new, creative spirits. Joe Fonda’s "Song for My Mother" opens with some haunting piano, bowed bass and spacious mallets. There is some strong interplay between the members of the piano, bass and drums, but it is the soprano sax that takes great, serpent-like solo in the second half. Michael Stevens’ "The End Game" has a lovely, laid back melody and more sublime soprano from Mihaly, as well as a fine bass solo from Mr. Fonda. By "Fire Jumping" the quartet start to soar with some great rolling piano, amazing jet-propelled bass and hard-swinging, Art Blakey-like drums. "Improvisation" is just that and all four players get a chance to stretch out and swirl powerfully around one another. The quartet concludes with a tasty version of Mongo Santamaria’s classic "Afro Blue." John Coltrane’s
version of this song is perhaps the most revered version and the quartet do play it in a most spirited Trane-like way with some superb soprano sax and a rich, lyrical, sparkling piano solo
from Mr. Stevens.
~ Bruce Gallanter - DMG
- Downtown Music - Bruce Gallanter


Discography

Live from De Werf - ARC Recordings 2013
Icicles "Konnex Records" 2010
Eastern Boundary Quartet "Artisjus" 2007

Photos

Bio

The EASTERN BOUNDARY Quartet ls a collaborative quartet featuring the Hungarian master musicians drummer Balazs Bagyi and saxophonist Mihaly Borbely and the long-standing bass/piano partnership of New York City bassist Joe Fonda and pianist Michael Jefry Stevens (co-leaders of the Fonda/Stevens Group). This quartet first performed together in Europe in 2007, toured the United States in the spring of 2009 and toured Eastern Europe in October. In 2011 the quartet toured Europe supporting their 2nd CD release "Icicles" on Konnex Records. The 2012 European tour produced a wonderful live concert in Brugge, Belgium which has just been released as our third CD. The group toured the USA for the third time in 2015 and will be back on tour in Europe in April of 2016.

The Eastern Boundary Quartet performs original music by all members of the group. The band was formed with the imagination of connecting two worlds of the jazz scene today. This unique collaboration is a mixture of avantgarde jazz and ethno music from Hungary, like a cultural bridge between the USA and Eastern-Europe. This bridge is made of talent, respect, brotherhood and friendship, built by the common language of jazz and improvised music.

Band Members