Become a member || Login
Ready To Listen

Jackie Orszaczky
Ready To Listen

Click to add the CD to your shopping bag

Deserted Downtown

Jackie Orszaczky
Deserted Downtown

Family Lore

Jackie Orszaczky
Family Lore

John McBeath, The Australian 2008

LEGENDARY Sydney musician Jackie Orszaczky, a mentor to many, died on February 3, aged 59, after a two-year battle with lymphoma.

Since then there have been numerous tribute concerts in Sydney and a big one in his native Hungary in April.

This CD was recorded in several Sydney studios during the two years to 2006 in live, one-off takes, and mixed in 2008.

In it Orszaczky is heard on his trademark piccolo bass and vocals, and in his trio with long-time collaborators bassist Dave Symes and drummer Hamish Stuart.

About half of the 12 tracks are originals and Tina Harrod, Orszaczky's musical and life partner, provides back-up vocals on three songs. For 25 years he contributed his arranging and bass playing talents to albums by Marcia Hines, Savage Garden, the Whitlams, Tim Finn, Hoodoo Gurus, Grinspoon and many others.

More an influential soul and funk stylist than a jazz performer, Orszaczky's vocal approach owes something to Ray Charles, and his piccolo bass grooves and wails like a funky guitar.

Hoagy Carmichael's ballad The Nearness of You gets a bluesy rearrangement and a swinging Orszaczky bass solo accompanied by his unison scat singing.

James Taylor's hit Fire and Rain is another song well suited to the funky style featuring swampwater bass work with a small amount of reverb.

Manic Depression by Jimi Hendrix in 6/8 time explores some of the composer's guitar ideas with the addition of Orszaczky's overriding, semi-strangled vocals.

Of course all of the original tunes are perfectly suited to the composer's style, with Look Up and Burnin the most vocally raw and emphatic; in these and throughout the album, Stuart's drums and Syme's bass provide visceral support.

Vitamin Records has just one more Orszaczky recording left to release, in mid-2009. Meanwhile, Ready to Listen is a fine collection from a great talent

Dan Condon, Timeoff.com.au 2009

This disc, one of two posthumous releases to be issued since legendary Australian musician/band leader/composer/arranger Jackie Orszaczky passed away early in 2008, sees him with his collaborators of the past five years – bassist Dave Symes and drummer Hamish Stuart – playing a series of covers with a couple of originals thrown in for good measure, all delivered in a very funk-oriented fashion.
Ready To Listen is merely a record of what this trio were capable of doing in a live setting. Orszaczky himself admits the arrangements would change every time the band played them; such was the nature of their approach. As good as they sound here, you can’t help but wish you could catch the group live on stage really letting it rip.
Orszaczky sings on this release but also plays an electric piccolo bass, a type of bass guitar that has a register an octave higher than a regular bass. If there’s anything that will stop people enjoying this record it’s the unfamiliar timbre of the instrument; but it’s in the hands of Jackie Orszaczky – have faith. His approach to the instrument is constantly experimental, occasionally a bit too bizarre, but always technically impressive.
While the combo blast through renditions of well known tracks like Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Manic Depression’ and James Taylor’s ‘Fire And Rain’, it is Orszaczky’s own compositions that win out here. The deep, disjointed groove of ‘Look Up’ and the title track is some of the best progressive funk you’re likely to hear in the modern day. Orszaczky was renowned as a musician, but his voice here is sensational; hollering ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ and crooning through ‘Burnin’’ smoothly. A fitting memory of one of last year’s great losses to Australian music.

Tim Richie, Radio National 08/09

Jackie Orszaczky was a master bass player and one of Australia’s most influential band leaders of the past quarter century. He died earlier this year after a long illness. And over the last five years, he and drummer Hamish Stuart and bassist Dave Symes have been recording originals and covers chosen from the reaction of audiences at their hundreds of live performances. This release is a wonderful collection that will be a timeless testament to Jackie’s contribution to music.
Ready to Listen was feature album on Radio National's Breakfast programs in the first week of 2009.


Brian Wise, Rhythms Magazine 2009

When Jackie Orszaczky passed away in Sydney on February 3 last year, Australia lost one of its most talented musicians. I suppose we can claim him as our own, after all he moved here from his native Hungary back in 1974 after a successful career with jazz fusion group Syrius.

Yet even while he put down his roots here and had two daughters with partner Tina Harrod, he was still able to return to his homeland and draw large crowds for his shows – a tribute to his musicianship and standing.

On settling in Australia Orszaczky joined the experimental group Bakery and went on to establish a formidable career, including later work as an arranger, session player or producer for The Whitlams, Tim Finn, Savage Garden, You Am I, Hoodoo Gurus and, even Grinspoon.

While he had been trained in classical piano and violin, Orszaczky was best known here for playing bass, and specifically the piccolo bass. He also put together The Grandmasters (which included Harrod) and a variety of other eclectic or funky ensembles.

I saw Orszaczky in performance too few times. Gigs at Byron Bay were memorable and I declared that with the Grandmasters he had the best funk band outside New Orleans. I am sure his long-time friend Jon Cleary would agree. More recently he appeared, along with Harrod, in a Charlie Parker tribute show for the Melbourne International Festival that underlined his prodigious talent. Sydneysiders were far luckier in getting to see him on
a regular basis.

Over the past five years of his life, Orszaczky and long-time collaborators, drummer Hamish Stuart and bassist Dave Symes, recorded some of their favourite numbers - covers and Orszaczky originals – resulting in this posthumous release. (Apparently, there is another album we can look forward to some time this year).

One of the major trademarks of Orszaczky’s talent is his ability to get inside the groove of the song. It is something you often hear New Orleans musicians do but it is not a skill that seems to come easily. On last year’s Little Feat & Friends album, Join The Band, few of the guest musicians were able to imbue the songs with anything new and for the most part you wish most of them had never tried in the first place. It is sad when some of your favourite songs are murdered, even if they are killed with kindness.

Compare that with Orszaczky’s versions of some classic songs on this wonderful album.
James Taylor’s ‘Fire Rain’, a pop hit from the ‘70s, is probably not a song you would want to readily hear again in its original incarnation, having been flogged on gold format radio. However, Orszaczky takes it and transforms it into a jazzy-infused romp.

Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong’s ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ is given a similarly jazzy feel as Orszaczky’s voice pops along behind the beat.

Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Manic Depression’ obviously cannot be as frenetic as the original butOrszaczky changes the timing, makes his bass the feature instrument and has his expressive voice riding along on top of the instruments, and again just a tad behind the beat.

Hoagy Carmichael's ‘The Nearness of You’ is given a bluesier arrangement, with an accompanying bass solo accompanying a vocal that is tinged with a Ray Charles cadence.

Appropriately enough, given the funkiness of  some of the original material, Orszaczky adds Dr John’s ‘Me Minus You Equals Loneliness’ in a delightful rendition of which I am sure that the good Doctor would highly approve.

“I first started getting into the piccolo bass about fifteen years ago, and I love it,”
wrote Orszaczky in the liner notes for the album. “It allows you to expand into the
harmonic registers that are not available on the normal bass. I guess, as there are no courses or literature for the instrument, every player has to work out their personal approach to it. My approach is mainly harmonic, as it comes very handy with backing myself up with vocals. You put the groove where the tune needs it to be.”

Of course, the fact that Orszaczky has also provided a batch of really strong original songs should not be overlooked. The title track starts with a strident drum beat and a husky vocal as Orszaczky almost raps the words. ‘Lights Off,’ ‘Sweet Song’ and ‘Holiday From Yourself’ are stripped back ballads on which we are given a sense of what a fine voice Orszaczky possessed, with the last song featuring some superbly tasteful harmony and backing vocals.

‘Look Up’ is a funky workout that seems inspired perhaps by Jon Cleary’s work. In this case, Orszaczky and crew (including Tina Harrod) on backing vocals) match the funkiness of Cleary’s Absolute Monster Gentlemen. ‘Stew’ is a gentler funk stroll.

“The tunes on this CD are some of our favourites that we have been playing over the last years,” continues Orszaczky, “and the way we make it interesting for both ourselves and the audience is by freeing up the arrangements to suit the particular gig. Each live performance is slightly different from the others. The same applies to this recording; they are all live, one off takes, in various studios around town.”

”Hope you’ll enjoy the disc,” writes Orszaczky as his closing note. I do not think there is any doubt that you certainly will.

John Shand, SMH 2009

Jackie Orszaczky's final statement of his art before his death nearly a year ago is almost completely and brutally stripped down. Gone are the cunning arrangements for horns and chord instruments, displaced by just Orszaczky's voice, Dave Symes's bass and Hamish Stuart's drums delivering the songs' bare bones, sparely fleshed out with the leader's quirky piccolo bass.This instrument was Orszaczky's signature sound over his last 15 years and was much more than a conventional bass. His own creation, it was a bass guitar with lighter-gauge strings and tuned up as much as an octave higher than normal. Treated with various electronic effects, it sometimes sounded rather like an organ and at other times more like a guitar. This album's sparseness provides an opportunity to appreciate the constant. Symes's funky lines, to doubling the vocal melody, sketching chords and soloing (very lyrically on The Nearness Of You). The sparseness also places particular focus on Orszaczky's singing. That striking, gravelly surface is like a husk wrapped around the innate warmth (and sly humour) within, and this multi-faceted layering helps him convey every lyric as if it were a very personal letter to the listener. Even more telling is the phrasing, which always lies at the heart of Orszaczky's art, whether singing, playing, arranging or composing. So intensely rhythmical is this phrasing that if one pulled the backing tracks out and just listened to his voice, the funkiness you hear in the totality would already be there — and in spades.The material includes new and revisited originals, plus a typically idiosyncratic array of covers. One might not, for instance, expect to find James Taylor's Fire And Rain sitting near to Jimi Hendrix's Manic Depression (with a suitably wild piccolo bass), nor Hoagy Carmichael's The Nearness Of You nestled beside Dr John's Me Minus You Equals Loneliness. But then under the Orszaczky treatment material of all stripes fuses and melds in the consciousness. One of the strongest originals is the revisited Lights Off (from the classic Family Lore CD), which is so much more poignantly sad than it is sexy, as he tells of a girl who "made love in the dark, so she could be with whom she wanted". Then there's the opening Ready To Listen, which has one of those Hamish Stuart beats that could have once made Sly Stone (and therefore Miles Davis) get up and boogie. Against this, both Symes's supple bass and the piccolo bass create an intricate network of intersections and parallel lines, while the singing is as percussive as the drum part is singable. Orszaczky's partner, Tina Harrod, swells three tracks with her backing vocals, including Look Up and I Heard It Through The Grapevine. Otherwise we have the essence of Orszaczky. What could be a more fitting epitaph for a wonderful artist?