Laszlo Gardony is a superior jazz improviser who infuses post-bop music with references to his Hungarian folk roots. He studied at the Béla Bartók Conservatory in Budapest, graduating in 1979. Gardony recorded five albums on European labels, toured throughout Europe, and then in 1983 emigrated to the U.S. to attend Berklee. He performed with the group Forward Motion, recording two albums for Hep. Since graduating from Berklee, Gardony joined their faculty on a part-time basis, played with John Abercrombie, and recorded as a leader for Antilles, Avenue Jazz, and Sunnyside.
Though Gardony recorded for the latter in '90s, he joined the label's prestigious roster formally in 2001 for Behind Open Doors in a trio setting with drummer Jamey Haddad and bassist John Lockwood. That same year, longtime Gardony fan Matt Glaser, violinist for newgrass band the Wayfaring Strangers (that also includes Tony Trischka), persuaded the pianist to contribute a solo to their inventive rendition of Ralph Stanley's classic "Man of Constant Sorrow," which appeared on the band's debut, Shifting Sands of Time. By the time they issued This Train two years later, Gardony had become a member of the group, playing not only in the studio but on tour.
The pianist's longstanding trio with Lockwood and drummer Yoron Israel commenced recording with 2003's Ever Before Ever After and has issued four critically 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 critic's favorite. He joined 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 followed with another solo piano album entitled Serious Play, combining spontaneously recorded studio compositions with a few soulful reimaginings of standards. ~ Scott Yanow