It’s a long way from the renaissance splendour of Budapest to the urban intensity of Washington DC but this is the journey that writer, producer and keyboard player Attila Molnar has taken to realise his musical dream. When recently I talked with him from his Maryland recording studio the conversation ranged from living life on a new continent to his passion for making music.
A shining example of what the American dream can deliver; Molnar arrived in the USA in 1997 with a whole lot of talent but no job. As he explained, "Without a green card there was no prospect of me ever working as a professional musician. Then I saw an advertisement for a position as a supervisor. It included sponsorship toward gaining residents status so I went for it." In the event it took eight more years to attain that all important right to perform but by then he was already well connected on the DC music scene. In 2005 Attila produced, co-wrote, and recorded the CD ‘I Got Your Back’ for Toni Hutchinson and also formed a powerful liaison with rising sax star Jaared. We had become really good friends" he told me "and the chance to play keyboards in his touring band proved to be a wonderful opportunity."
Attila remains an integral part of Jaared’s line-up and along the way has also enjoyed a spell with Slim Man’s Bona Fide. He is currently a member of the fourteen piece In Gratitude which showcases the music of Earth Wind & Fire but it is as a solo artist that Attila Molnar is really garnering critical acclaim.
I asked him about his sensational solo project ‘Dreams’ that was released in 2009 and he had some thrilling news for me. This tight twelve track collection (which includes eleven original Molnar compositions) has been a personal favourite for some time but, as Attila explained, it is all set to get even better. "When I recorded ‘Dreams’ it was done on an extremely tight budget and with my own money. Now I want to revisit the majority of the tracks, have them remixed and use more live instruments. Overall I am looking for more of a smooth jazz vibe. I am also interested in bringing in several guest artists." Exactly who he has in mind remains a closely guarded secret but Attila promises that when names are announced Jazz Review will be among the first to know. "It’s not just about remixing the tracks" he confided. "I have been writing continuously since ‘Dreams’ was released and now have a whole raft of available new music. Consequently it is my intention is to add two of these new tracks to this latest version.
I commented that Attila seemed to be building a body of work that could well lead to another album. "Yes" he confirmed, "this is the path I’m going down and there is every prospect that in the not too distant future there may also be a ‘Christmas’ project in the works."
For most musicians that would be more than enough but, then again, Attila Molnar is not most musicians. I had heard about his fascination with the movie soundtrack as an art form and wondered if he had any ambitions in that direction. He said that "As a boy I was trained in modern classical music and for as long as I can remember I have been a huge admirer of the composer John Williams. The matching of a film with the music that supports it is, for me, crucial and Williams’ music for the ‘Star Wars’ movies is a superb case in point." Attila went on to tell me that he was now "actively writing with movies in mind" and "exploring ways in which to reach out to those in the film industry" who potentially may find a fit with what creatively he has to offer.
Finally I asked Attila what was driving him to take on these stimulating new challenges. His answer was as refreshing as it was honest. "Ever since I was a kid in Hungary music has been playing in my head" he told me. "Rhythms melodies and the tunes they combine to create. Now is the time to bring that music out into the open, so that it can be heard, so that people can enjoy it." For music lovers everywhere that can only be a very good thing.