Sounds of timelines around me – our experience at the Djabe double-surround concert

Coverage of László Göbölyös N.

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Hard task to follow Djabe across spacetime. While constantly renewing and evolving they look back all the time. That’s exactly what they did at their surround gig at MOMkult. The internationally acclaimed jazz/world fusion band Djabe puts the emphasis on the quality of their life performances too, as it was with their last concert at MOMkult, the surround premiere of their album Flow (nominated for Fonogram Award) last autumn. Now they topped this with a mini tour (Debrecen, Hatvan and Budapest, all in Hungary) performing Flow and the 20-year old album Witchi Tai To, the latter being a breakthrough for Hungarian world music and an often-mentioned milestone for the band. Witchi Tai To lived numerous remixed editions, the 45RPM audiophile 2LP being the last.

After the Android band (from Debrecen) was done with their thick but somewhat static opening act, we’re thrown back 20 years and can once again welcome the late András Sipos, one of Djabe’s founding members with his unique singing and percussion play.

A wonder of modern technology and musical dimensions that Sipi, gone for 11 years, can not only be seen and heard on recordings but can play together with his friends on the stage.

Not only the old band was once again together (besides Attila Égerházi and Tamás Barabás the saxophonist Ferenc Muck also stars in this performance) but with the new members (János Nagy, Áron Koós-Hutás and Péter Kaszás) the music enters the modern 21st century while retaining the free and joyful flow of the old ways. The best part of this section was performed by Muki and Huti with saxophone and trumpet, but the classic acoustic guitar of Atti also sounds beautiful, especially in the good old Early Morning Show. Vocal for the title piece was of course by Sipi; at the last concert of his life he was actually performing Witchi Tai To.

After the intermission the tracks from Flow came on stage and, being true to the title, the music surrounded us in waves, sometimes billowing (Flow) other times brutally (Curved Mirror).

Tomi was right to say ‘Hope you survive this…’ before starting. I confess, at this point (and is some other cases, too) I felt the surround overwhelms my ears. But let this be my problem.

I listened to this album live multiple times last year and every time the artistic but tender sounding, only reproduceable by a band of integrity and cheerfulness, can be heard a little bit more. Muki once again showed up for the finale, a statement for the old ways work, even after many years and in a changed musical world.

Videos are a regular addendum of Djabe concerts, and this was no exception. However, along the projection the lights (of many colors) were in constant movement and rendered the clips unenjoyable many times. This was specially disobliging when Sipi was on screen. A typical case of ‘less is sometimes more.’

László Göbölyös N –
21st March 2019

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