Friday, January 21, 2022

Hermann Szobel - Szobel (1976)

The one and only album by the one and only Hermann Szobel. The short version of the story goes: Szobel waltzed into a Roberta Flack recording session and blew away everyone there with his piano-playing, landed (with the help of his famous promoter uncle) a deal with Arista, recorded and released this incredible debut record, had some sort of breakdown while recording the follow-up, and disappeared. And not just from the industry: his mother filed a missing persons report on his behalf in 2002, and information about his whereabouts has remained sketchy at best since. Supposedly, he's alive and living in SF.

Aside from all of this, though, is the album itself, which is a wondrous labyrinth of avant-fusion from top to bottom. Discordant, controlled chaos that jumps effortlessly from cinematic slow-burning to frantic, panic-driven frenzies, often resembling RIO more than fusion. Szobel had some serious musical and compositional chops, and it could have been a brilliant career, but I supposed the music biz just wan't for him. At least he gave us this one gift before going off-grid.

Track listing:
1. Mr. Softee
2. The Szuite
3. Between 7 & 11
4. Transcendental Floss
5. New York City, 6 AM

Also listen to:


  1. I have never heard of this geezer and this album is bloody amazing. Thanks so much.

  2. Reminds me on Zappa and yet so much more.Fantastic!
    Keep 'em coming, your blog is the best. Thank you

  3. Wow. Ranks with anyone who worked in improv/fusion-esque jazz. Prog elements surface too. Miraculous. Fate can be a bloody cruel thing, but fortunately for us it allowed the artist--and us--this marvelous piece. Blessings and thanks for the post and all you do here.

  4. I remember seeing this is the cutout bins with many other Arista titles... ( new York Mary anyone?) I guess its time to have a listen. Thanks!

  5. Hi, may I request:

    David Oliver – Lizard Grows On You
    David Oliver – Marishka

    Thank you