Jackie Orszaczky ‘Beramiada’ CD (Aztec) 4/5

Miklos ‘Jackie’ Orszaczky was born in Budapest in 1948. He was the bassist for the celebrated Hungarian fusion band, Syrius, who nipped over to Australia in the early 70s; a couple of years prior to Jackie relocating there. “Beramiada”, a fictitious land named after Jackie’s war-victim uncle, was recorded in 1975 with the hot session guys John Robinson (guitar) Peter Jones (keyboards), Graham Morgan (drums) and Michael Carlos (synthesizer).

Aztec Records call this recording “the Crown Jewel of Aussie Jazz Fusion”. I’ll happily take their word for that as the only other AJF-er I know is Frank Gambale, and my view of him is tainted by the punishing hours I spent trying to better myself with his Frank Gambale Technique Books (“The essential soloing theory course for all guitarists”). I undoubtedly would have been a famous professional guitarist if it wasn’t for Frank Gambale. Thanks Frank Gambale.

Anyway…

Gentle percussion shines through the daybreak curtain crack; welcoming us to a “Morning In Beramiada”. Robinson’s phasy, fuzzy hammers and pulls rudely awaken before Jones’ warm organ creates subtle motivation to arise and some simple, open Sharrock guitar lines yawn and stretch. Morgan decides it’s time to get up and get on with it and guitar and bass begin to shape a developing motif. There’s sufficient stop, start and syncopate proggy fusion moments to keep air musicians happy but it’s always seeking a purpose. Purpose arrives in the form of a bright Tron/Star Fleet sci-fi cartoon of utopian optimism where Jones and Carlos lead a keytar space funk caper, with which fellow rocketeers Jackie and Robinson purposefully engage.

“Thoughts Of Home” is lovely; part jazzy ‘figgy pudding…so bring some out here’, part late 70s feelgood, moral-teaching, family-TV soundtrack. It’s, initially, Jones’s piano being allowed to float around a theme as others come and go and augment. Then the band unites and slickly shifts us to the final part of the show; a comforting, warm-fronted Weather Report, supported by some delicious, mouth-watering Jackie bass.

Punchy “White Raven” has a spiky bass motif and a stuttering drum part. It’s intense and heavy; a proggy car chase. Primetime Yes playing Piero Umiliani. With no relenting in sight, both Jones and Robinson are forced to grab solos – Jones somehow managing to sound breathy rather than breathless.

These “Friends Of Mrs. S” must be her most funkiest coterie. There’s a perfectly-lengthed, highly-sampleable breakbeat, some limber, but fat, bass, choppy wah guitar, and gloopy electric piano. All the essential ingredients for some mid-70s, tight funky fusion.

“Tubarose” is a patient, evolving piece, almost brooding, probably more rambling, certainly mesmeric. Jackie’s bassline and Morgan’s kit stroll are impellent, galvanic like good parents prompting and observing; awaiting (hoping for) growth. It takes 6 minutes before the children find their voice. Not sure it’s a communal voice (there’s no ‘i’ in team, remember!) but decent parenting nonetheless. Also, Morgan’s a bit of a beast on this.

“Let’s Go And Make It” is a jolly, rare groove, dancefloor job which is totally out of place here but no matter. It highlights the, not atypical for those 70s jazz guys, progression from fusion to rare groove/disco that Jackie successfully undertook.

Reckon I agree with Aztec re the crown jewel bit. If there was a Jazz Fusion World Cup, “Beramiada” would definitely be Australia’s entry and I’d put a sly tenner on it upsetting some of the competition’s big boys in the early rounds. If you like your fusion, and you like your fusion on the proggier side, then I’d say this is pretty damned essential listening.

Ian Ward