Reviews of Parallel Crossings
Sandor Szabo & Kevin Kastning,
Parallel Crossings has 13 duets by Sandor Szabo and Kevin Kastning, both
of whom play 6- and 12-string baritone guitars. Kastning developed the
instrument with Santa Cruz Guitars.
These ambient duets are difficult to classify. They do not fit easily
into either folk or jazz. They have an ethereal, avant-garde feel. The
titles of the pieces indicate this. They include "Cartesian Vector,"
"First Pleochroism" and "Aeshna Cyanea." The improvisations
are not completely "free." Each piece has melodies, but it is
as if they are crossing over from a parallel universe.
Sometimes there is a sense of foreboding, since you cannot pin down where
the music is coming from, or where it is going. On the other hand, it
is sometimes soothing, since Szabo and Kastning perfectly complement each
other, and the playing is always on an even keel. There are also moments
of otherworldly beauty on this CD that lasts nearly an hour.
This is highly recommended for those who like acoustic guitar music that
is far from ordinary.
Sándor Szabó/Kevin Kastning: Resonance (2007) and Parallel Crossings
"These are two collections of duos featuring New England based Kevin
Kastning and Hungarian born Sándor Szabó. The two play a variety of acoustic
baritone guitars, including a 12-string extended baritone guitar invented
by Kastning, in a wide variety of tunings and stringings. In a nutshell,
what they do on Resonance and Parallel Crossings could be thought of as
loosely composed improvisations, constantly changing directions and style,
although nothing here is beholden to any identifiable style other than
that which suits each of the players at any particular moment in time.
The overall impression is of one guitarist with four hands rather than
two individual players, so empathic is the cooperation between them. Moments
of frenetic activity are balanced with periods of sublime calm; off-hand
bits of technical flash are spelled by passages of simple beauty. These
improvisations (13 on each CD) might be classified in some sort of acoustic
free-jazz idiom; way too avant-garde and captivating for ECM, and way
too adventurous for Windham Hill. And adventurous it most certainly is,
for after at least a dozen spins of these discs, the listener is still
met with new surprises at every turn that hadn't been noticed on previous
listens. There are so many moments of
brilliance here to absorb, and with very little repetition and predictability,
one can be sure that the surprises will continue well into the future.
Surprisingly, for what is essentially atonal music, it is relatively accessible,
perhaps because neither performer indulges in the acoustic-guitar equivalent
of saxophone screeches. So long as a listener is into this general style
of improvised composition and playing, these are albums that will keep
giving as far as you want to take them."
Exposé Magazine, Fall 2008 (USA)
- Peter Thelen & Jon Davis
Sandor Szabo & Kevin Kastning, Parallel Crossings (Greydisc,
"Parallel Crossings has 13 duets by Sandor Szabo and Kevin Kastning,
both of whom play 6- and 12-string baritone guitars. Kastning developed
the instrument with Santa Cruz Guitars. These ambient duets are difficult
to classify. They do not fit easily into either folk or jazz. They have
an ethereal, avant-garde feel. The titles of the pieces indicate this.
They include "Cartesian Vector," "First Pleochroism"
and "Aeshna Cyanea." The improvisations are not completely "free."
Each piece has melodies, but it is as if they are crossing over from a
parallel universe. Sometimes there is a sense of foreboding, since you
cannot pin down where the music is coming from, or where it is going.
On the other hand, it is sometimes soothing, since Szabo and Kastning
perfectly complement each other, and the playing is always on an even
keel. There are also moments of
otherworldly beauty on this CD that lasts nearly an hour. This is highly
recommended for those who like acoustic guitar music that is far from
- Rambles.net (USA)
"Last year, I was hugely gratified to find this pair's previous release
(Resonance; Greydisc, 2007) as toothsome as it was, a moody set of improv
tunes by two guitarists steeped in a mindset not often displayed nowadays,
pensive, dark, and hypnotizing. The lead cut here, Preludium, only affirms
my best hope: more of the same composes the new outing, and that's a very
good thing indeed. Both musicians play the rarely seen baritone guitar,
adding a richly resonant greymist to everything. As before, one can't
help but return to ECM's moodier fusion days when guys like Ralph Towner
and Bill Connors were composing for exactly this purview, a shadowland
between darkness and light, the place where wandering souls pursue elusive
thoughts and unsettling sentiments.
Preludium also pointed up a device I'd not as readily detected in last
year's disc: the occasional use of the secondary guitar to match the lead
in such a way that it can seem to be a drone synth, close attention paid
to sonics and frequencies. Under an Evening Sky follows as one of their
sparer cuts, more balladic, possessing a greater sky of negative space
than is usual for the duo and with a much clearer top line, a story-telling
aspect. Improfugue I speeds that process up but not to any degree of flashmanship.
Even when this pair desires a brisker tempo, they never sacrifice a single
note to achieve it, setting the pulse rate up only to contrast the underlying
laconic atmospheres, often depositing mildly skewed confusions, hesitations,
This is night music, what classicalists call 'nocturnes', and so aptly
laid that it provides not only superb background and foreground material,
as mood might dictate, but also perfect fall-asleep sounds, the listener
drifting off to dreamland, giving way to a spell of interior complexities.
Cordulia Aenea switches the norm, positing the secondary guitar's place
into a bass-substitute not as a rhythm device but rather a second lead
strictly kept to the bottom strings, thick notes rumbling off the prime
position. The listener, before surrendering to lethean visions, utters
a silent "Ahhhhh!" then sinks beneath consciousness. Only in
such composers as Harold Budd, Roger Eno, and others will one locate such
fare otherwise…though you won't find such marvelously agitated work as
in Second Pleochroism there, here a jangly jarring affair strongly evoking
Towner's Solstice period, as does Aeshna Cyanea, its connubial partner.
Through everything, though, one
finds constant intrigue within a set of songs compelling revealed that,
perhaps ironically, are strangely settling.
Maybe it's just the comfort one finds in knowing that two individuals
can set the more unusual of our thought processes to music so perfectly.
Therefore, investigate this work when you're athirst for maturer landscapes
dotted with myriad sound sculpturing, philosophically more tantalizing
than what 95% of the market could possibly offer."
- Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange (USA) by Mark S. Tucker
Sándor Szabó & Kevin Kastning, "Parallel Crossings," (2008)
"The phrase "Parallel Crossings" poses a Zen-like conundrum,
and foreshadows an equally enigmatic music. This is music which is freely
improvised on two acoustic guitars, and though such a concept would likely
produce senseless noodling in the hands of lesser guitarists, Kevin Kastning
and Sándor Szabó have the requisite skill and telepathy to create musical
magic in the moment. Ambient improvisation has been done before by the
likes of Eno, Hassell, and Oregon, but a similar endeavor with this kind
of minimalist instrumentation is beyond recollection... truly innovative.
With no electronics or loops to bolster instantaneous compositional choices
guided purely by chance, Kastning and Szabó demonstrate the kind of interplay
and the confidence to delve into unknown territory which is usually associated
with master jazz musicians. Many of the tracks are dreamlike and meditative,
as on the opening track "Preludium" and "First Pleochroism."
Others, such as "Improfugue I" and "Cordulia Aenea"
might be called pleasantly meandering. "Cartesian Vector" is
haunting, perhaps even disturbing. All, however, will challenge your musical
preconceptions -- spin "Parallel Crossings" only with a very
open mind." © Alan Fark
- Minor 7th Magazine; August 2008 (USA)
Ekultura Magazine (Hungary)
Sandor Szabo/Kevin Kastning: Parallel Crossings
"It is an interesting thing to write of a record when I heard its
material first in a live concert. This happened now. The Sandor Szabo/Kevin
Kastning baritone guitar duo has performed in Szeged recently. It is important
to know of Kevin Kastning that he studied with Pat Metheny and he is a
great fan of Bartok.
In that night, a third guitar player joined to the duo; Dominic Miller,
the guitar player of the Sting Band. They played a fantastic concert together.
Kastning, the most modern guitar player in the US in these days, met Sandor
Szabo in 2005 who is a great master of the multistring modern acoustic
guitar. The evidence why they can play in so fluently and intuitive way
is the three albums they recorded together.
I would like to point out in the beginning that the Parallel Crossings
does not belong to the easy listening commercial albums. To meet this
music demands open mind.
Concerning the deepness of the music, this album is about such a wisdom
of life that only the greatest artists can create when they reach the
age of their 70s. Though these musicians are far from that age but what
they created and how they play it the listener can have no doubt of its
deepness and credibility. The message of their wisdom says that the most
difficult thing in life is to reach the clear serenity.
What they showed in these 13 pieces recreates the content of our existence:
the vibrant oscillation between the constant changing, the cadence, the
fantasy and structural order. The one who wants the regular will congeal,
the one who wants the irregular will disintegrate. The task of our weekday
life that demands a lot of braveness and stress is to be able to live
and express the regular and irregular. On the one side of the river of
the existence there are the intelligence and the law, on the other side
all which stands above them. The struggle of these opposite tendencies
often threaten as with disintegration, but these musicians disclose what
the secret of this serenity is: to contemplate all from far like children.
Just like all the good movies and books this album has a promising introduction
(Preludium) a meaty action and heavy ending (Postludium). I was very happy
to receive this album, the conception of this album is far beyond the
habitual themes we can hear in these days.
At last we have something else and valuable instead of the cheap commercial
stuffs covering everything."
- Czékus Mihály