Mihály Borbély – saxophones, clarinet, tárogató, flutes
Mihály György – guitar, bouzouki
Miklós Lukács – cimbalom
Krunoslav Agatic – accordion
Balázs Horváth – double bass
Hunor G. Szabó – drums, percussion
The Balkan Jazz Project is led by Hungarian saxophonist and multi-reedist Mihály Borbély who as at home in folk and world music as in jazz and contemporary genres. Borbély gathered this band of like-minded musicians following joint concerts given by his Quartet B and the Vujicsics ensemble. The two bands are connected by the multi-faceted musician and the concerts of the BJP to date have shown that the collective energies of the Carpathian Basin, the Balkans and jazz can be focused with huge success. Powerful rhythms, elegantly transparent, lyrical melodies and frenetic dance tunes all combine to great effect. BJP concerts frequently feature the masters of Balkan music (e.g. Theodosii Spassov, Marko Markovic) performing as guest soloists, giving enthusiasts of folk music, jazz and world music a special treat. Their album “Mihály Borbély Balkan Jazz Project feat. Theodosii Spassov Live at Fonó” has been released by the prestigious Hungarian record label, Fonó.
Multireedist Mihály Borbély got his degrees in classical clarinet and jazz saxophone from the Béla Bartók Conservatory and Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Hungary and became a real versatile musician working in different musical styles from folk and world music to jazz and contemporary music. In addition to his original instruments he also plays folk instruments like the tárogató, folk flutes, kaval, dvojnice, fujara, ocarina, bombarde and zurna.
He is a member of the famous folk group the Vujicsics (founded in 1974!) and, in addition to this he has participated in severeral recording sessions and concerts of leading Hungarian and international artists and groups, among others: Paul Bley, Steve Coleman, Trilok Gurtu, Charles Lloyd, Herbie Mann, Michel Montanaro’s Vents d’Est, Zbignew Namislowsky, Theodosii Spassov, Jiri Stivin, Saxophone Summit (Michael Brecker - David Liebman - Joe Lovano). He also performed with composer-conductor Peter Eötvös and the National Philharmonic Orchestra. In the nineties he formed his own jazz groups, the Quartet B, the Mihály Borbély Quartet (’Borbély Műhely’) and a duo project with pianist Károly Binder. He has played on major folk, world music and jazz festivals all over Europe as well as in the US and Australia.
He won the prizes listed above:
,,Best Soloist’’ – Karlovy Vary Jazz Festival (1988)
three eMeRTON prizes (2000, 2004)
Artisjus Prize (2002)
„Jazz Album of the Year” – M. Borbély Quartet „Meselia Hill“ (Gramofon, 2005)
The „Knight Cross of the Hungarian Republic“ (2005)
Ferenc Liszt prize (2012)
„Alto Saxophonist of the Year“ – JazzMa (2013)
Gábor Szabó Jazz Prize (2014)
Kossuth Prize, as a member of the Vujicsics band (2014)
„Jazz Album of the Year” – M. Borbély Quartet „Be By Me Tonight“ (Gramofon, 2016)
„Soprano Saxophonist of the Year“ – JazzMa (2016)
Teaching is a very important element of his musical philosophy and he is an associate professor at the Jazz Department of Ferenc Liszt Academy of music in Budapest where he was the chairman between 1997 and 2000. Among these he gave lectures, workshops and master classes in his country and abroad, e.g. Birmingham Conservatory, Royal Academy of Music in London, DISTIL Scotland/England, Conservatoire de Lyon, Dresden University of Music C.M. von Weber and several colleges in the USA and Mexico.
„Borbély and his crew have produced an excellent, satisfying album that contains some beautiful stuff and several breathtaking moments.“ (London Jazz News)
„With the band sounding like a swinging jazz combo at times – albeit one where Borbély’s strident extensions are sometimes also expressed on tárogato – and a sympathetic chamber ensemble elsewhere, this homage to Kodály impresses with originality as well as empathy.” (Jazzword)
„This is an intriguing set of modern music that grows in interest with each listen.“
(All Music Guide)
„If Bartók played not-so-straight-ahead jazz, it might sound like the Borbély Quartet, combining Serbian, Slovak, Gypsy, Jewish and German folk influences with classical music, shot through with that thing that swings. Roland Kirk would understand.“ (RootsWorld)
„His arsenal of Hungarian reeds – tilinko, supelka and the more well-known tarogato – brings a range of changing timbres to the table that are as haunting as they are ecstatic. A notable release from a group that deserves an international spotlight for its obvious talent.“ (Jazzwise)