Friday, May 14, 2004


Yours truly on borrowed congas, Tiborcz Iván on tenor sax and some guy from Budapest on whistle type thing in the little acorn that was Jazzland, Cserfő '96. Posted by Hello

So what if the stage did look as if it was cobbled together from old refuse bags, they were even that hard up that they asked Kan the man to sit in on what if Ivan's kids were the only ones ferrying alcoholic comestibles to the audience and, more importantly, to the what if the only international component was yours fucking what. I had a blinding time and have done most years since.

I first met Iván in the winter of 1991. He had escaped Hungary for Greece some years previously and had eventually been admitted to the US, ending up in a suburb of Chicago shacked up with some coloured chick (I remember him telling me that he had exclaimed, "Hey, your pussy's pink!" on his first close encounter with said organ.) and earning a crust playing tenor sax in jazz bars in the windy city. He had returned to Hungary and was teaching English in a local school. I never have adequately distilled the reason for his return to the land of the Magyars but I would suspect that he left the States with the imprint of some immigration officer's boot on his backside but, who am I to speculate?

After a few initial communication problems...that is to say, he couldn't understand a fucking word I said, American accents not being as diverse as their English counterparts, Cajun excepted, of course...we became great friends. I would whup his sorry ass at pool and he would try and get me laid. He had a theory, based on his experiences in the States, that playing Mr Wobbly hides his helmet was an activity that could be enjoyed irrespective of language ability. Wrong! Mind you, he did take credit for my obtaining my first Hungarian girlfriend despite the fact that she had approached him with the request of "Have him washed and brought to my tent." And so my love affair with females of the Magyar persuasion began. One of their little idiosyncracies is the fact that, for them, oral sex does not rank up there with the deed itself and, in fact, is viewed as an alternative form of contraception. Oh, my! In fact, along with her proficiency in 'French', said girl could also speak English (well...yes, no and maybe was the sum of her productive skills at the time) and was a major factor in my not learning any Hungarian for about two years. She, however, passed all her English exams, is fluent in the language of the bedroom and is still, my very good friend.

Anyway, he gigged, sundry girls gagged (that should lively up the comments section) and I jogged along for about 4 years before he bought a vineyard in Cserfő and settled into his country estate.

He was gigging around town with various other musicians and had a weekend gig at a jazz cafe in town playing piano. Booooooring! So, in 1996, he organised the first Jazzland festival. The stage was the terrace of his vineyard retreat and the musicians those of his acqaintance, including myself, whom he could persuade to turn up and jam for three days. A very small acorn, indeed. I remember it raining like buggery on the second night and I woke up in a sleeping bag on a very sodden and warped set of floorboards and had to spend the next day lifting them up and moving them outside to be sun-dried. Who left that bloody door open?

Anyway, the thing grew in size and stature from year to year to the extent that there is now a purpose built stage, an indoor jazz club, several bars, two retail food outlets and stars of the calibre of Rhoda Scott grace the event with their presence. I have missed it for the last 4 years as I usually bugger off back to Blighty at about that time, but I'm buggered if I'm not gonna be there this year. Particularly as the pedocentric pen pusher from Maryland is gonna try her best to get over for it. I owe Jess several hugs and I can imagine no better venue for these than the best jazz festival west of the Carpathians. Anyone wishing to sample the delights and needs picking up from Budapest airport and/or a garden to pitch a tent in for the duration of the festival (15-17 July inclusive) should send mail soonest. Failing that, a message in the comments, or a massage in the coppice, will suffice.

Come one, come all, we'll have a ball!