Laszlo Gardony

About Laszlo Gardony

A sophisticated jazz improviser, pianist Laszlo Gardony infuses his swinging post-bop music with nods to his Hungarian folk roots. Since his emergence in the early '80s, Gardony has drawn favorable comparisons to such esteemed players as Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, and Herbie Hancock. Following his move to the United States, he debuted with 1986's The Secret, playing with bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Ian Froman. He has worked with such artists as Dave Holland, Randy Brecker, and Dave Liebman, and as a member of the progressive bluegrass outfit Wayfaring Strangers. On his own, he has issued a number of highly regarded solo and trio albums, including 1995's Changing Standards, 2008's Dig Deep with bassist John Lockwood and drummer Yoron Israel, and 2019's La Marseillaise. Born in 1956 in Hungary, Gardony started playing piano at a young age and was a mere five years old when he began improvising songs by ear. Classically trained throughout his adolescence, he was delving into blues, jazz, and progressive rock by his teens. After high school, he studied at both the Béla Bartók Conservatory and the Science University of Budapest. Following his graduation in 1979, he embarked on his professional career, touring and recording throughout Europe and playing festivals with such luminaries as Art Blakey, Abdullah Ibrahim, and others. In 1983 he emigrated to the U.S. where he enrolled at Boston's Berklee College of Music on full-scholarship. During this period, he performed with the group Forward Motion, who recorded two albums for Hep. Graduating from Berklee, Gardony joined the school's faculty as a private instructor. He also found work playing with John Abercrombie, Randy Brecker, Eddie Gomez, and more. In 1986, he released his debut trio album, The Secret, which he had recorded in Europe with bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Ian Froman. Two years later, he paired with bassist Dave Holland and drummer Bill Moses for his sophomore trio date, Legend of Tsumi. During the '90s, Gardony moved deftly between solo piano dates like 1990's Changing Standards and larger ensemble dates like 1994's Breakout. He also recorded several swinging, nicely textured albums with guitarist Garrison Fewell. In 2001, he joined the Sunnyside label for Behind Open Doors, playing in a trio setting with drummer Jamey Haddad and bassist John Lockwood. That same year he also joined violinist Matt Glaser and banjo player Tony Trischka on the debut of their progressive bluegrass ensemble Wayfaring Strangers, soloing on Ralph Stanley's classic "Man of Constant Sorrow." By the time they issued This Train two years later, Gardony had signed on as a full-fledged member of the group. The pianist's longstanding trio with John Lockwood and drummer Yoron Israel debuted with 2003's Ever Before Ever After. Together, they have issued four critically well-regarded albums including 2008's Dig Deep and 2011's Signature Time (that also featured saxophonist/vocalist Stan Strickland on several cuts). In 2013, Gardony issued the solo piano set Clarity, which became a critical favorite. He played with his trio-to-sextet setting for the 2015 live date Life in Real Time, adding Strickland, Bill Pierce, and Don Braden. Two years later, he returned with the solo piano album Serious Play, combining spontaneously recorded studio compositions with a few soulful reimaginings of standards. For 2019's solo piano date La Marseillaise, Gardony offered his own originals alongside Errol Garner's "Misty," Denny Zeitlin's "Quiet Now," and the classic Neapolitan song "'O Sole Mio." ~ Matt Collar