Jakab György

Jakab György
02.07.1950 - 16.02.1996
keyboards, vocals

1965-1968 - Rákfogó
1968-1971 - Winkelmayer Brass Band
1972 - Neoton
1973-1976 - Neoton & Kócbabák
1977-1990 - Neoton Família
1990 - Új Neoton
In the early 1970s top Hungarian jazz rock bands were "Rákfogó" ("Crab") and "Winkelmayer Brass Band". The former was founded in 1965 by guitarist Miklós Orszáczky and sax player Béla "Bögöly" Lakatos; however, the musicians were severely lacking experience, not being up to the task of playing such complex music, so they put the band on hiatus in 1968, sending some members in US to learn. The latter jazz band was formed by Josef Winkelmayer, a talented musician who was a member of "Benkó Dixiland Band" several years before. Falling in love with American jazz music at the age of 15, he selflessly dedicated all of his spare time to music. By 1968 he had succeded in gathering a group of like-minded people, including György Jakab who just left "Rákfogó". György (also nicknamed Gyuri) was raised in a family of musicians. He became familiarized with several instruments including piano and he loved singing. However, "Winkelmayer Brass Band"'s first lineup broke several months after with some of the members leaving the band. Josef, Gyuri and Elek Nyári, bass guitar player who stayed with the band, began recruiting members again and soon they were joined by sax player János Németh, drummer István Bihari and trumpet player Endre Czakó.

They played together for two very eventful and fruitful years. It turned out Gyuri was extraordinarily adept at learning: he didn't need numerous rehearsals to memorize songs and he could instantly come up with arrangements and keep improvising without pause. Together they were a great crew, hanging out by day, playing live in Budapest clubs by night. Josef thought the next evolutionary step would be getting "Winkelmayer Brass Band" to play abroad. In the Autumn of 1971 he arranged a series of live shows in Netherlands that was scheduled to start January 1, 1972; however, a crisis occurred: in November 1971 István Bihari and János Németh left the band, then Elek Nyári and György Jakab couldn't get travel passports in time. As Josef Winkelmayer was solving this issue and looking for new members of his band, Gyuri was spotted by the members of "Neoton" rock band which was also in need for new members; eventually they managed to lure him away from his former band.

While "Neoton" members were stricken mainly by Gyuri's singing voice, he had to make his debut in the new band as a songwriter. He could liven up their rock songs with his creative potential, adding melodism and spontaneity of jazz. Gyuri, with his cheerfulness, amiability and good sense of humour, eventually became the life and soul of the band, the member who always aimed to unite it, being ready to help when the need arose. He wrote such songs as "Te vagy a minden" (1975), "Tegnap még azt hittem" (1976), "Denevérszárnyú éjszakák" (1976), "Vallomás" (1976), "A "Várunk rád"" (1976), "Menedékház" (1976), "Boldog család" (1977), "Csak a zene" (1977), "Bárcsak nálam lehetnél" (1977), "A disco-királynő" (1977), "Ej, ej, kisember" (1977) and the famous "Hívlak" (1977). In most of these songs male vocals were also recorded by him. After the "Neoton Família" fusion and Lajos Galácz's leave it was decided to state Pásztor-Jakab duo as the authors of all songs.

"Neoton Família" members frequently noted that György Jakab had music in his blood and his soul never stopped singing. He was frequently asked to sing off-stage, and the whole world went in tune as he struck the first chord on the piano. Gyuri's voice could be heard in such hit songs as "Santa Maria" (1979), "Marathon" (1980) and "Sandokan" (1983), he sang solo for a beautiful ballads titled "Régi zongorám" (1981) and "Látomás" (1984), for joyous "Bye bye kedvesem" (1987), lyrical "Emlékül" (1987) and many other songs. In 1983 he also participated in composing a soundtrack for Hungarian drama movie titled "Adj király katonát".

After "Neoton Família"'s breakup he was a member of László Pásztor's "Új Neoton" and took part in managing such artists as Zorán, Erika Zoltán, Jimmy Zámbó, Róbert Gergely, "A 100 Folk Celsius" and "Alvajárók" alongside László Pásztor. In December 1995 he was suddenly hospitalized, diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately he wasn't strong enough to fight off rapidly progressing illness and in February 1996 this talented musician and singer passed away.

By Mikhail Badanin
Translated into English by Andrey Sinelnikov