“Before recording the music, the eight musicians on the record spent a year rehearsing and playing together under the tutelage of some of the most respected names in jazz.” I read that sentence on the liner notes of drummer/composer Marton Juhasz‘ Discovery, his new album, and it didn’t seem like much of a surprise. That’s because I listened to the music first and thought wow, what an ambitious storm of an album. Juhasz, who hails from Hungary, is one of those young men who take the world of jazz by, well, storm, winning all the important awards and earning all the impressive degrees from prestigious institutions such as the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
That sounds a little flippant, but it’s not. The genius and the promise of this young man drips from every note on Discovery. He fuses all types of jazz into his compositions–Brazilian jazz, big band, be-bop and even funk and fusion. The first time I listened to this album, it took me a few tracks before I could grasp what Marton Juhasz was trying to do, which is everything. The sound of the jazz inside his head must be swirling, comprehensive and incredibly dense. Occasionally he takes a breath and lets one idea ride, allowing the other seven on stage to do what they love to do, but when these complex compositions take flight there’s a sense of pure power and stunning momentum. So I’m not being flippant–perhaps I’m in a daze.
Marton Juhasz is another interesting drummer/leader, and that means his rhythms act as the conductor. He has many tricks up his sleeve–he can sound like a traditional drummer and speak through his subtle movements on the snare, or he can produce a rock beat with an interesting time signature, just to mix things up. His arrangements thrive on conflict, of using two disparate moods to blend and turn into something strange and uncommon. In many cases this conflict comes from the dreamy voice of Yumi Ito–her sometimes wordless choruses evoke Brazilian jazz but sometimes take a sudden turn into the oxymoron of a one-woman chorale, both sacred and ghostly. It’s her energy that flows through this album and connects all the dots.
It should be obvious that this is a different type of jazz. It’s ambitious, it borrows from everywhere, and you have to stay engaged with every moment to follow Marton Juhasz and his ethereal beats. Discovery finds it strength in the ability to sound constantly off-kilter, both dreamy and a little eerie. You can focus on his drumming skills, and how he leads the other seven musicians, but you might not hear the immediate connection like you would with other drummer-leaders. He is sly in addition to ambitious, and I’m sure he’ll remain just one step ahead of the rest of us throughout his promising career.