Artist: Andreas Varady
Album: The Quest
Genre: Smooth Jazz / Fusion
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
The Time Is Now
Early-career hype can be a peculiar mix of blessing and curse. Andreas Varady certainly deserves the praise he gets, and one could hardly ask for a more generous mentor and endorser than Quincy Jones (“It’s not every day that you see a 15-year-old kid playing like George Benson!”). Pre-teen virtuosity and study of influences, however, inevitably have to give way to developing one’s own voice. Old and new listeners alike should have no worries on that score here. With his third recording coming as he approaches 21, Varady makes a promisingly bold leap toward coming into his own.
The titular quest doesn’t refer to a goal but an intent to explore—”seeking cool things, playing cool music in cool places, enjoying it all and having fun doing what you wanna do,” in the guitarist’s words. Despite that prominent adjective, though, cool takes an easy second place behind hot on The Quest. The playing sizzles, the writing flies over the stylistic map with abandon, and the players’ chemistry has the distinct brashness of youngsters freshly starting out and bursting with ambition.
The opening pair and the brisk mid-album title track could almost make a listener briefly wonder if they’d cued up a Pat Metheny Group recording by mistake. Benson, Wes Montgomery and Kurt Rosenwinkel make obvious touchstones as well, but more exciting is the way Varady spins his musical loves together. The leader shreds like a madman, yet never without purpose and smart deliberation. “Radiska” burns up the joint with some wild hard-bop piano and sax; the smoother “The Time Is Now” and “Her Dream” coast with a warm mid-tempo ballad feel both classic and timeless. Each piece also boasts enough different sections and dynamics to leave those descriptions only a semi-accurate shorthand.
The time is indeed now for Andreas Varady. He’s done his homework so much that the process sounds effortless. He’s gone from reflecting influences to absorbing and reworking them. It just remains for the rest of us to excitedly watch where else this crazy talent will take him—all indications say it should be a remarkable journey.
By GENO THACKARA