A tireless innovator, the famed guitarist’s distinctive compositions incorporated a range of styles. Szabo created songs that were cutting-edge, producing evocative music from a number of disparate sources – jazz and rock fused with hints of his native Hungary, as well as Indian, Asian and Latin traditions. Aside from a stint at the Berklee College of Music in the late 1950s, Szabo was largely self-taught, and this solitary training imbued him with a penchant for independent thinking, helping to shape his experimental style. During the 1960s, Szabo played with the likes of the avant-garde Chico Hamilton quintet, the Gary McFarland quintet, and the Charles Lloyd quartet. His solo work, along with the quintet he formed in the late 1960s, expanded upon his push-the-boundaries style. Despite his impressive output, Szabo is perhaps best known for his song “Gypsy Queen,” which was reinterpreted by Carlos Santana into his hit “Black Magic Woman.” Szabo was just 45 when he died in 1982, but his artistry and creativity remain standards for inventive, original musicianship.
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