In its first foray into straight ahead jazz, Memphis International Records announces the June 26th release of Always from The Kálmán Oláh Trio featuring Jack DeJohnette and Ron McClure. A native of Hungary, pianist Kálmán Oláh has gained international renown as an artist who masterfully combines elements of jazz, folk and contemporary classical music. The title song of the forthcoming album earned Oláh the 2006 Grand Prize in the BMI-sponsored Thelonious Monk International Jazz Composer’s Competition.
The new album, his first U.S. release finds Oláh backed by drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Ron McClure who rose to lasting prominence with Charles Lloyd and later with Lloyd bandmate Ketih Jarrett. DeJohnette, who met Oláh in Budapest several years ago, is effusive in his praise, stating in the liner notes to Always, “When Kálmán swings, he does it authentically, it’s soulful and sophisticated, as well.”
While Kálmán Oláh is a new name to American audiences, he’s a seasoned player having appeared in Europe with score of well-known artists including Lee Konitz, Randy Brecker, Pat Metheny, Steve Grossman, John Patitucci, Tommy Campbell, Stefano Di Battista, Jay Leonhart, Daniel Humair, Andrej Ceccarelli, Paolo Fresu, Kenny Wheeler and many others.
According to the Studio City Sun, “(Always is)…one of the best instrumental releases in a long time. Olah is a mindblower, mixing several musical elements into a fearsome whole, someone that takes originals and standards to the highest level of improvisation.” The Memphis Commercial Appeal calls the title track “…more Bill Evans than Monk, the composition is a standout, distinguished by its throbbing rhythm and melancholy melody. The rest of the record shows it is no fluke, with material ranging from the solid bop workout Polymodal Blues to the impressionistic closer Elegy.”
Born in Budapest of Romany (Gypsy) parentage, Oláh graduated from the Béla Bartok Conservatory, completing his musical studies at Franz Liszt Music University, where he is a current member of the jazz faculty. During his student years, his unique, ecumenical approach gained him widespread recognition, winning numerous awards at competitions both in Hungary and abroad including the Great American Jazz Piano Competition in Jacksonville, Florida.
Kálmán has become a regular at festivals in Italy, France, Spain, Belgium and elsewhere. His versatility as a performer is demonstrated by his passion to expand the musical boundaries and his ever-lasting quest for new forms of self-expression. The brilliance of both his playing and compositional skills as heard on Always confirms that a bright new start, from a most unlikely place, has alighted in our midst.