Gabor Szabo – ‘Bacchanal’


A friend of mine recently introduced me to Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo and his 1968 album Bacchanal, and now it’s the only thing that I can listen to. This album’s mix of jazz, pop-rock, and Hungarian style is an interesting blend of many influences, but what’s amazing is how seamlessly he combines everything. You can tell that Szabo is a master of several different styles when he makes it sound this easy.

Szabo was a huge influence on Carlos Santana (apparently he ripped off his “Gypsy Queen” for the second part of “Black Magic Woman”) and he was well respected among international jazz elites. Though his career was influential, Szabo’s personal life took an interesting turn later when his involvement with the church of Scientology derailed his music career. He would eventually sue the church for corrupting and try to get back into music, but the damage was already done and his music would never be the same. He died already known to many people as a man from past. But what a past.

This album’s tracklist is fascinating to me: two of the songs were written by Donovan, one by Burt Bacharach, and a piece by André Previn “Theme from Valley of the Dolls”, a cult classic that inspired Roger Ebert to co-write a parody. There’s no singing on the album, but Szabo’s guitar playing should be enough for anyone.

Tonight put aside some time to listen to this album all the way through (it’s on Spotify) and I guarantee you’ll have a good night.