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Csaba Toth Bagi Balkan Union Official Website!


Guitarist and singer Csaba Toth Bagi has been a fixture of the Hungarian music scene since his teenage years, well known for his powerful voice and his soulful and technically brilliant guitar playing. His rootsy blues and jazz style is greatly influenced by his Balkan upbringing, his Hungarian musical education and his years touring internationally with renowned guitarist Al Di Meola.

He was raised in Serbia in a family of musicians who later settled in southern Hungary in 1993 during the Yugoslavian war. His father started him on the piano at the age of 6, and by age 12 he had found his voice writing and recording on the guitar. At the age of 16, Csaba recorded his first blues album “Crazy Clock”(1997), featuring Tibor Tatrai, the most respected Hungarian blues guitarist. The album won great acclaim from European critics, who described him as “the Hungarian Gary Moore”.

The album was soon followed by four more releases: “A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix”(1999), “Kell, Hogy Hazudj”(2000), “Another Blues World”(2003) and “Nelkuled (Without You)”(2006), a melodic collection of vocal compositions influenced by traditional Hungarian style with a pop delivery.

Csaba has been touring and performing throughout Eastern Europe with his bands which often include traditional Gypsy instrumentalists. In 2004, his trio CsaboWabo was chosen to represent Hungary at the  Jazz in the Park European Union Exhibition and Festival in Bangkok, Thailand. Additionally he worked with Ennio Morricone as musical director and guitar player at the National Theatre and Open Air Theatre of Szeged, Hungary.

Currently Csaba has finished his latest project “Aved Ivenda” of original compositions combining traditional Macedonian, Serbian and Hungarian melodies and rhythms into a jazz structure. The project has excited the attention of US jazz musicians Al Di Meola, Dave Weckl, Ernie Adams and Butch Thomas; Cuban percussionist Gumbi Ortiz; Italian accordionist Fausto Beccalossi and Macedonian keyboard player Vasil Hadzimanov, who have all added their own personal style to this unique fusion recording.

enja records

Guitar Buyers Magazine

“Csaba Toth Bagi - Aved Ivenda (Winter’s Coming) featuring a star studded list of artists within it’s line up including the sheer talents of Al Di Meola, Dave Weckl, Gumbi Ortiz and the equally incredible insights of Fausto Beccalossi on accordion which produces wonderful raw ingredients for the musician’s musician to be inspired by. There are two tracks on the album which honour Csaba’s Balkan root origins, “Esővel Megyek El” and “Volt Nékem Szeretőm”, along with a consignment of heavily blues laden, jazzy and highly involved instrumentation spanning all instruments and well worked out melodic lines and sustained bursts of inspired improvisation. Add into the mix an appreciative embellishment of Macedonian influenced keyboards thanks to Vasil Hadzimanov and you have a complimentary mix of smoothly interwoven musical tapestry just bubbling over with mutual appreciation of each other’s gifted contributions. Throughout there is a natural intuition and cohesive understanding of the music’s individual needs from the space to the business of when the band cooks - which in truth is all of the time, whether it simmers along or bubbles up a lot like a cauldron on top of a furnace. It’s funky, slinky, jazzy, beboppy and tighter than clamp all wrapped in virtuosity which is a celebration of creative intensity. With more than an hour’s music it’s an aural feast edging into tasteful elements of full blown fusion making it a rare project of worthy attention.”

John Burdick

(The Sweet Clementines)

“This is some serious high end fusion steeped in Balkan rhythms and Hungarian Gypsy influences. It captures the war torn sentimentalities yet rugged survivalist energy of the eastern european gypsies, mixed into a groovin' blues-jazz format.”

Brian Soundy (UK Jazz Radio)

“Aved Ivenda: A powerful track with excellent guitar from both Al Di Meola and Csaba Toth Bagi. Interesting to hear Al Di Meola's influence always there but an uncompromising Csaba Toth Bagi with his obvious roots playing through. A masterful track from all musicians. Dave Weckl in great form and a strong powerful but always in the right place bass line from the bass of Laszlo Mathe. Pianist Vasil Hadzimanov does all the right things to enhance the performance. A classic track!

Lotus: A melodic powerful track showing the expertise of all musicians in particular Laszlo Mathe on bass with some great engaging riffs powerful but always fitting in at the right time and place. Goes without saying Dave Weckl produces a rock steady performance. Some great sax from Butch Thomas on sax whose career spans some 30 years of featured performance and recordings by the likes of Jaco Pastorius, Lenny Kravitz, Aretha Franklin and Sting. What I like about all of the tracks on this CD is that all arrangements allow the musicians to shine but they never take over, the purpose of the track is always there. Haven't mentioned Csaba Toth Bagi yet... a great performance on this powerful melodic track.. certainly a name to watch out for...can't wait to see and hear him live!

Laura's Song: The hauntingly melodic Laura's Song again shows the expertise and feeling the musicians have working with Csaba Toth Bagi. Some beautiful guitar work fronting this excellent arrangement. On this track Dave Weckl takes a break and is replaced by Peter Kaszas on drums with Gumbi Ortiz on congas and guiro. An excellent performance from both. Some very subtile sax from Gabor Molnar is a nice touch.

My overall thoughts on this CD are: with the right exposure and live performances it stands a very good chance making a lot of waves... My only concern is that many radio and television stations like to anchor into a genre. The genres that most critics and musical directors will pigeon hole the CD are hackneyed and passive and could lead to some misunderstandings of the quality of this CD but all in all it is a first class gem of a CD well done to all.”

Giulio Cancelliere

(Strumenti Musicali)

“C’è molto di tradizionale e tanto di moderno nello stile di Csaba Toth Bagi. Figlio dei nostri tempi, solo apparentemente pacifici nella vecchia Europa, in realtà densi di fermenti intellettuali, storici e, ahimé, bellici, Csaba, ancora bambino, viene allontanato dagli incubi della guerra nella natìa Serbia

e con la sua famiglia si stabilisce in Ungheria. Qui, la preziosa educazione musicale che gli viene impartita lo porta ad adottare prima il piano, poi la chitarra come strumento espressivo, ma, soprattutto, la scoperta del blues diventa fondamentale per forgiare il suo linguaggio. Già a sedici anni pubblica il primo disco, Crazy Clock, che lo fa acclamare come il Gary Moore ungherese.

Seguono un omaggio a Jimi Hendrix e ad altri eroi e monumenti del blues elettrico come Muddy Waters, Peter Green e J.J. Cale, senza trascurare una vena pop e smooth jazz di matrice gypsy.

La sua voce morbida, corposa, soul, si intreccia ad un drive chitarristico ora aggressivo, ora agile,

sempre misurato. Sono caratteristiche che lo portano all’attenzione di Al Di Meola, il celebre chitarrista italo-americano, che ha collaborato al suo ultimo disco, Aved Ivenda (Arriva L’Inverno,

in gypsy serbo-croato), ingaggiando uno strepitoso duetto elettrico nel brano omonimo, originariamente un malinconico canto tradizionale balcanico. L’album coniuga la coloritura blues di Csaba  con il piglio funk-fusion, la melodia jazz con l’incedere irregolare del rock balcanico e un certo romanticismo folk. Collaborano all’album gli statunitensi Dave Weckl, Ernie Adams e Butch Thomas; con loro il percussionista cubano Gumbi Ortiz (da oltre vent’anni partner di Di Meola), il tastierista macedone Vasil Hadzimanov e l’italiano Fausto Beccalossi alla fisarmonica, in una potente declinazione artistica della globalizzazione, un world-blues, che pare essere il paradigma del nuovo millennio.”


“I heard his music and thought it was beautiful. Knew we had to work together. Great band with good writing... nice tunes! He amazes me!Eastern European music is really amazing and hard to play at times but the sounds of some scales are really beautiful. It will be really fun for me to play with Csaba and his band.

They sound terrific and I love Trilok Gurtu! I have been a fan forever. I’m really looking forward to playing with those guys.”                           Mike Stern 

“It's always inspiring and a treat for the ears to hear influences from many cultures all mixed into song compositions. Csaba's writing certainly falls into this category, and a treat it is! His sound is rich, his playing is great, and I had a fun time performing on the songs I played on. Bravo!”   Dave Weckl

“I hear in this spirited music offering from Serbian-Hungarian born guitarist, Csaba Toth Bagi his own claim to his roots and influences that are truly bountiful!”                             Al Di Meola

“The Creator has blessed you with the trinity of musicians: Very strong and unique vocals, great guitar abilities and the know how to write a great song! You owe it to Him to share it with the Universe. You have the makings for greatness and deserve everything he has to offer. Go get the success and happiness that is yours!”    Ernie Adams

“All you gotta do now, make sure the goulash is hot!”                    Gumbi Ortiz

Andrzej Fronc

(Hi-Fi Choice and Home Cinema)

“O muzyce:

Austro-Węgry pełną gębą! Kto by pomyślał, gitarzysta o korzeniach serbskich, mieszkający obecnie na Węgrzech. W tle Macedonia, czyli Bałkany rządzą. Wszystko to zanurzone w idiomie jazzowo-bluesowym, z wyraźną domieszką muzyki funky i rock. Mieszanka zaiste ożywcza i nam Polakom jakoś bliska. Zróżnicowany repertuar kolejnej już płyty gitarzysty.

Słucha się tych opowieści bardzo smakowicie i każdy znajdzie tu coś dla siebie, zarówno wielbiciel bałkańskich klimatów, jak i amerykański oraz zachodnioeuropejski znawca i koneser rasowego jazzu. Gitarzysta i towarzyszący mu zespół potrafią zagrać z przytupem, iście rodem z filmów Kusturicy, ale kompozycji bluesowych i ballad nie powstydziłby się ani Mike Stern, ani żaden inny wirtuoz gitary. Jednego dokooptowano do składu Csaby, to sam Al Di Meola, występujący w utworze rozpoczynającym tę dynamiczną podróż muzyczną.

Poza tym przy fortepianie udziela się świetny Vasil Hadzimanov, na basie Laszlo Mathe (dawno nie słyszałem tak dobrego grania na gitarze basowej), a za bębnami sam Dave Weckl, wymiennie z Ernie Adamsem, Third Richardsonem i Peterem Kaszasem. Uwagę zwraca niesamowity Fausto Beccalossi. Instrumentami perkusyjnymi zarządza Akos Kertesz. Jest też saksofon Butcha Thomasa i Gabora Molnara. Wymieniam ich wszystkich, ponieważ uważam, że warto o nich i o tej muzyce pisać, a przede wszystkim jej słuchać. Jakby tego wszystkiego było mało, to Csaba jest też wokalistą i w utworach, w których śpiewa, nie mamy już żadnych wątpliwości co do korzeni gitarzysty i sporej części jego zespołu.

Jest tu sporo muzycznych opowieści, pełno zauważalnych akcentów bałkańskich. Kompozycje brzmią nawet dość rockowo i z tzw. wykopem. I choć są to, geograficznie rzecz biorąc, obszary piękne i warte zobaczenia, to wiemy przecież, że są to także ziemie trudne i naznaczone cierpieniem wielu konfliktów. Stąd ta swoista surowość muzyki okraszona jednak zdobieniami charakterystycznymi dla krajów bałkańskich. Nie słyszymy tu motywów żywcem wziętych z folkloru bałkańskiego i wrzuconych w tzw. muzykę zachodnią. Mamy raczej do czynienia z wzajemnym przenikaniem się poszczególnych wpływów. Stąd znany już nurt jazzowo-bluesowy z elementami rocka nasycony został pięknem i melodyką krajów basenu Morza Czarnego i Śródziemnego.

Nurt world music nie składa się więc tylko z egzotycznych ingrediencji afrykańskich czy azjatyckich. Czasem wystarczy zajrzeć na własne podwórko, a potem umiejętnie wpleść swojski klimat w wehikuł dźwiękowy czytelny na całym świecie. Goście zza oceanu świetnie wpasowali się w te serbsko-macedońsko-węgierske opowieści i nadali im amerykańskiego sznytu, i w efekcie muzyka ta bez problemu znajdzie słuchaczy w ojczyźnie jazzu i bluesa. Poza tym z pewnością świetnie sprawdzi się na koncertach, gdyż solówki lidera robią wrażenie i potrafią porwać słuchaczy. Mnie porwały. ****

O dźwięku:

Światowość tej muzyki podkreśla również fakt, iż została nagrana w trakcie międzynarodowego tournée słynnego zespołu Al Di Meoli (Al Di Meola's World Sinfonia). Tokyo, Bridgeport, Sankt Petersburg, Los Angeles, Szeged, Budapeszt... To tylko parę stacji nagraniowych tego energetycznego materiału. Wszystkie te składniki umiejętnie zmiksował Thomas Mundorf. Brzmieniowo nikt się z nami nie pieści, bywa ostro i głośno, ale wszystko jest na swoim miejscu i na obrzeżach dźwięku wyraźnie słyszalny jest blask bałkańskich klimatów. Muzyka z krwi i kości, i tym konkretem bardzo piękna.”

Mike Stern

Trilok Gurtu

Al Di Meola

Fausto Beccalossi


Toth Bagi

Copyright © Csaba Toth Bagi 2011