What a gem. It’s true the ’70’s weren’t very kind to Gabor Szabo, as he’d put out a string of mediocre albums that didn’t hold up to his classic ’60’s output like Spellbinder and The Sorcerer. The public had long forgotten Santana’s cover of Szabo’s “Gypsy Queen”, and he was no longer selling many records nor collaborating with well-known artists like Bobby Womack or Lena Horne. This album, though, is extremely well crafted and flows as well as his best recordings.
Released in 1978, Belsta River finds the guitarist accompanied by Swedish guitarist Janne Schaffer in a sextet showcasing piano on the excellent “24 Carat”, which also features keyboard, bass, drums, and extra percussion. Schaffer is the perfect foil for Szabo’s lead, and his presence adds a grace to the proceedings not found on his most recent recordings. Not only is there elegance to spare, but there’s funk and latin rhythms mixed in, making the four tracks on this record a greasy delight. Two Szabo originals and two covers are included in this set, highlighted by the fantastic closer “Stormy”. There isn’t a wasted note through the whole forty minutes, and this record will appeal to any fan of high quality music.
++++- out of +++++