Andreas Varady - The Quest

Label: Resonance Records, 2018

Personnel – Andreas Varady: guitar; Radovan Tariska: alto saxophone; Benito Gonzalez: piano; Bandi Varady: bass; Adrian Varady: drums.

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At the age of twenty, Slovakian-born, Ireland-based Andreas Varady is already regarded as a jazz guitar phenomenon. After catching the ear of Quincy Jones, who would become his mentor, producer, and manager, Varady signed with Verve, releasing his sophomore album with guest appearances of Gregory Porter and Roy Hargrove. On The Quest, his debut on the Californian label Resonance Records, the guitarist flies even higher in a comfortable, familiar setting with his father, bassist Bandi Varady, and younger brother, drummer Adrian Varady. Joining the family in this electrifying journey are proficient Slovakian saxophonist Radovan Tariska and Venezuelan-born pianist Benito Gonzalez.

The short exercise “Lost Memories” takes the plunge in the guise of a preamble, displaying amenable vocalized synths to better compose its verve. However, it is the following piece, “Radio Joint”, that really brings a nervy, disorienting post-bop kick, especially due to the rhythmically daring groove and vertiginous solos. Andreas gives the example, employing his fiery technique and unfolding glossy single-note patterns along with momentary yet stunning two-note dissonances in a style that mixes the soulful exuberance of George Benson, the resolved expressiveness of Wes Montgomery, and the rhythmic force of Kurt Rosenwinkel. The remaining soloists are Tariska, who steps on atonal zones with an in-and-out approach, and Gonzalez, who chooses different registers to create a private dialogue that encompasses swift lines, inviting intervals, and bouncing chords.

The group doesn’t lower their guard on tunes such as “The Time Is Now” and “The Quest”, complying with the energetic direction they have established while mounting challenging grooves and complementing them with busy improvisations. The former tune alternates between a 5/4 groove and a slower 4/4 passage. The initial meter prevails throughout the improvisational section and, following a solo piano moment, it falls into a vamp that showcases the drummer's nimble movements. In turn, and before catching fire with another groove in five, the title track exhibits an avant-garde-ish intro with the pianist in evidence.

Her Dream” is a colorful 6/8 piece with a nice flow, chromatic gusto, and rhythmic punch, while the effusive “Radiska” steps on modal jazz, without eschewing a striking swinging passage adorned with unbending riffs. An infectious guitar solo inspires not only the saxophonist, who starts 'praying' à-la Kenny Garrett, but also the pianist, who works on both extremities of the keyboard with a McCoy Tyner’s feel.

Although totally pending toward the hard-hitting, the album includes “Follow Me”, whose initial laid-back piano evolves to a medium-tempo without losing that balladic quality in its melody. After fading out, the tune resuscitates for a minute or so through relaxed piano, funky bass (played by Andreas), and hip-hop beat.

This is a powerful achievement for the up-and-coming Varady, a resourceful guitarist whose work evinces the maturity of a true champion.

        Grade  A-

       Grade A-

Favorite Tracks: 
02 - Radio Joint ►  06 – The Quest ► 09 – Radiska