Reviews and Quotes for Parabola

"The album "Parabola" is an album that will be a delight to lovers of music composed to be played on a guitar. With admirable virtuosity, Sándor Szabó and Kevin Kastning are two musicians with great professionalism when playing the guitar and that is perfectly reflected in an album like this destined be the delight of discerning music lovers. "Parabola" is a walk through the sensitivity in the interpretation of compositions designed to keep them alive only through different types of guitars with which these two artists are recreated in the musical atmosphere designed to stimulate the imagination. Sándor Szabó, with his 12-string baritone guitar, and Kevin Kastning with low baritone guitar with 6 strings, guitar, baritone 12-string and extended high 12-string guitar, makes this album sound a complete deployment where notes float in the air with harmony and beauty unsurpassed. The magic touch of these instruments makes each composition, an experience that will take us into states of emotional balance and inner peace through music.

Listen to this stunning album and peace takes hold of one, making the sensitivity to music is increasing as we move through these beautiful compositions. The serenity is owner of our senses to sensitize subtle enough to be able to hook permanently into melodies decorated with fleeting notes that lend it such a special point to each composition. A constantly evolving sonic detail, as the main body of each song, which gives us that look so mystical and relaxing as few instruments able to inspire us when we listen. For this reason, I find it very hard to stay with one of these wonderful items because I conceive this album as a whole more than the union of very different parts, with the hearing of all that makes the album "Parabola" is so complete, rich and exquisite. A music for music lovers who truly love music for its beauty and color your message as authentic. "Parabola", when music is art and the guitar becomes an instrument of worship for their sound so warm and unique. Enjoy it!"

- Lux Atenea webzine; Spain (March 2010)


Billy's Bunker Magazine; USA

Sándor Szabó & Kevin Kastning
A Construction of Light

"Menaechmus is famed for his discovery of the conic sections and he was the first to show that ellipses, parabolas, and hyperbolas are obtained by cutting a cone in a plane not parallel to the base."
    ~ From Wikipedia

And if a bird can speak, who once was a dinosaur,
and a dog can dream; should it be implausible
that a man might supervise
the construction of light
the construction of light

    ~ From "The ConstruKction of Light" by Adrian Belew

Out of the earth to rest or range
Perpetual in perpetual change,
The unknown passing through the strange.
* * *
But gathering, as we stray, a sense
Of Life, so lovely and intense,
It lingers when we wander hence,

That those who follow feel behind
Their backs, when all before is blind,
Our joy, a rampart to the mind."

    ~ From The Passing Strange by John Masefield

"It's not that easy to describe music in words, so I sometimes hang close to the words that get attached to it. Parabola is a great word. The image of DaVinci's drawing of a parabola is magical to me, and isn't it just too cool that parabolic can refer to the geometry of a thing created by slicing a cone, or the completely unrelated thought of a parable? I can learn the meaning of that drawing and know how to use the invention it describes, but I prefer to see it as art and magic. The same is true of the music on this album. There is math involved in all music, but that's not why we listen to it. These two guys from Massachusetts, USA and far off Hungary are playing guitar together in some strange and wonderful way. At first I want to call it jazz, but that's a little dumb. Here's a magic incantation to change the world: Everybody everywhere has been improvising all the time in everything. Jazz didn't invent improvisation. This album is something else. All those stock phrases, trills, chords, riffs, and scales we know and love in that same new thing we call pop, rock, blues, jazz or folk are seldom heard at all in this Parabola. Imagine that!

Improvisers have a bag of tricks without doubt, but Kevin and Sándor are like Santa Claus with a big bag of joy for all the boys and girls from another part of the galaxy. Hey Billy, here's a melody. Jimmy gets a lullaby. Jen and Mei get some sparkling thing I don't know what it is. I am falling for this album pretty hard, but the Peter, Paul and Mary Christmas tune still circles in my head like a joke at the party: "I never knew just what it was and I guess I never will." Bullwinkle ends the cycle of thought in that big moose voice: "Just listen!"

Alright! Alright! I sit back and take the journey. I just woke up and the coffee is just starting to work, but my feet aren't quite touching the ground. Maybe I'm not floating in space past icy Pluto, but I have no sensation of linoleum on my bare feet. What focused light has so changed my perception? Isn't that what Wikipedia tells me a parabola is all about? These guys are tour guides through rhythms and tonalities from another part of the system. I've been here in a way on the Sargasso Sea of John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner, but that's probably no more of an analogy than a brush with the comfortable unfamiliar.

I was at a Toru Takamitsu concert in Los Angeles one fine evening when I got a tap on the shoulder from composer Daniel Lentz. "What is the most important thing to know about any composer? he asked. I didn't even try, but treated the question like a knock knock joke: "Who's there?" Daniel had a very good answer: "How do they repeat musical ideas." Wow! That defines a great deal! A blues or a sonata are defined by the repetition. Here's the paradox to this Parabola: There really isn't much in the way of repetition to hold onto for long. Melodies bubble up and burst the way they do in Takamitsu's music, and in Debussy. Szabo may be playing a folk tune one moment only to stop and take another road altogether after a little caesura. Kevin sometimes plays a bass line on the baritone guitar only to turn his ax into a harpsichord of a thing as he slips forward to take the lead. None of it sounds like the usually noodling jam band guitar work I can trance to at a rave. I can't zone out under these conditions. This music is a little like meditating in a Zen temple where the master walks the room with a stick to keep the devotees from nodding off. By God, this is some sort of deeper form of improvisation. I don't know how they do it, but this music takes me someplace full of promise just this side of a druggy dream at a party populated by themes and counter-themes, contrapuntal dances, sweet folk melodies, and extended tonality where composers hang out to find something lost and something new.

This here Parabola is music that doesn't make me feel smart or dumb or anything of the sort. It's full of stars like the phrase from 2010. It may move in fits and starts like the rickety cart of pop band Primus, but I think those guys stole that from composers hither and thither. I've always wanted to know what goes on behind the eyes of serious music, but never felt I had the chops to see the imagination behind the finished work. This slice of the cone called Parabola provides my best window into that alternate reality. What goes on behind that curtain? Here in this time/space continuum of improvisation between two serious and joyous musicians is a key: They are at play in the world of extended sound. I might have thought there need be a controlling musical diagram written precisely in some late night back room somewhere to get where they get to, but they seem to be playing free. I guess it's possible to be so full of new music, it can seep out fully formed in a passing collaborative moment. It's the damnedest thing! What might it be like to think a song together and have it take form right there in the studio? There is a state of consciousness possible from listening to this album seldom available from cogitating solo. Here's the kicker: There is joy in the journey accessible and interesting right here in my stereo from this album. I don't enjoy feeling impressed and prefer to be moved."

Wild thing, I think you move me
But I wanna know for sure
So come on, hold me tight
You move me
    ~ From Wild Thing by The Troggs


1. Hyperbola
2. Vortex I
3. Vortex II
4. Vortex III
5. Trilateration
6. Cartesian Other
7. Trencadis
8. Reflective Asymmetry
9. Third Pleochroism
10. Vortex IV

"This review was a privilege to write. Kevin Kastning engaged in an amazing exchange of emails with me over the past few days. Sándor Szabó from Hungary and Massachusetts native Kevin Kastning have created an album of guitar duet improvisations which sound for all the world like composed music. This isn't jazz, but improvised composition with it's influences found in new composition, Hungarian folk songs, and whatever spirit filled the room when they were playing.

I believe this album will please anyone who listened to ECM jazz from the 70's and 80's, but with a big difference in the riffs, rhythms and tonality. This one was fun to write."

- Billy Sheppard
  Billy's Bunker



Gondola Magazine; Hungary

Sandor Szabo/Kevin Kastning: Parabola

"I have been very fortunate when recently I could hear the Sandor Szabo/Kevin Kastning guitar duo in live in Szeged, Hungary. The concert in Szeged was a stop on a Hungarian tour, where we could hear the American composer/baritone guitar player Kevin Kastning as the guest of Sandor Szabo in duo.

It is important to know that Kevin Kastning used to study with Pat Metheny and he is a great fan of Bela Bartok. I think it is needless to introduce the Hungarian Sandor Szabo the great master of multi-string guitars. He was one of the charter member of the SzaMaBa Trio in the middle of the ’80s. He was always for the high quality compromiseless music . Kevin Kastning is a new figure of the American guitar scene; it is not an exaggeration that he is the most modern guitar player now in the US. It is not accidental that they met in 2005 and now they have three albums with their duo. Their recent album is the Parabola. Their albums are not kind of consuming products, they are very refined art of today’s guitar music. This is not surprising knowing Sandor Szabo who never compromised the music he created and played. He always pointed out that making art in a commercial way is very far from him. Instead of that, he put the bar very high both musically, artistically, and in sound quality.

The album contains 11 pieces; all of them are Szabo/Kastning compositions. The titles (Trilateration, Cartesian Other, Third Plerochorism) immediately indicate that we cannot count on easy pieces. The music much rather can be described as philosophy formulated on the language of music notes. Sometimes we do not always understand what goes on but we never doubt in its justice. It is like a mathematical formula (equation) for which we cannot evidence, but it works. No doubt this music widely extends our multi-dimensional perception. We can have a glance into such worlds that is possible to create only by the greatest artists, composers, musicians, painters, poets."

Features: Szabó Sándor / 6 & 12 string baritone guitars, Kevin Kastning / 6 & 12 string extended baritone guitars 

- Czékus Mihály

Sándor Szabó & Kevin Kastning
Greydisc Records - GDR3505

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

The darkly abstract, acoustic, baritone guitar duo is back with its latest and best, a difficult claim to make, given the excellences of their past releases. Parabola is a haunting brocade of the far reaches of moody pointillism, a mode immediately intoned in an opening cut, Hyperbola, sounding like an unused track from the masterful Towner / Abercrombie LPs for ECM, treasures we lovers of the six strings hold in highest esteem (and which I, lucky bastard that I am, had a chance to see done live, a pairing never to be outdone). The song typifies the entire attitude of a duet forever reaching for more bizarre and compelling instrumental stylings in this mode, eventide melodic while atonal. Manfred Eicher gave up on the eerily delightful phase long ago, so thank God Szabo & Kastning haven't.

I've before drawn the parallels between this pair and Bill Connors' early work, also for ECM, and the cut Vertex I switches him in, replacing the Abercrombie element, sparkling runs and technique joining with what would be Bill's more nightskied nature. The titles on this disc seem to suggest a Morphogenesis flavor perhaps, but that would be true only in the unorthodox approaches taken. The guitarists have a taste for intelligent nomenclature reflecting the fractalized, as does Morphogenesis, but there's a much greater exercise of formalism despite the volatile nature of the work.

The disc abounds with incidentalism, as Trilateration demonstrates while wandering starstruck and on edge in a Pollockian universe, pizzicato bursts showering to the side. Cartesian Other has a balladic air…if, that is, the sonic lay were written by Cassandra courting Roderick Usher, the pair moon-eyed over beautifully drear landscapes and disturbing portents. As if to emphasize this, Straxii closes down the disc by combining Hyperbola with Trilateration for a macabre mad slow-dance of disintegratingly strophic airs leaving the listener adrift on far shores of sirenically fogmisted lands—bemused, dazed, and only too happy for the displacement

Edited by: David N. Pyles
© 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society(USA)


Thanks for the new CD, sounds really fine, performances are great.  I think your audience will appreciate this one."

- Brian Zolner,
Bricasti Design

I think you guys are on to something big with Parabola! And that ain't hyperbole. Seems to me it's in a new dimension from the previous opuses. Really fascinating. Not to mention educational. Here are some websites I visited in search of titular illumination:



You guys are teaching guitars a new language. In Trencadis, very softly-barely audible at 3:46 and 3:51 and then later often appearing, somewhat louder, and finally ending with this tone: sounds like tapping on a fine crystal glass--not like usual harmonic tones. I know you aren't into program music, but the geometric themes, esp. Cartesian Other, suggest to me a piece titled "Galileo and the Pope" with the Earth breaking loose from its religious mooring and whirling off around into space.
This could be followed by something like "Newtonian Gravitas" which gently draws the Earth into a well-tempered orbit about the Sun.

- D.P.,
Concord, MA 

"Hi Kevin,
Beautiful playing and gorgeous sound, Kevin. Nice to hear someone besides Ralph Towner who is able to achieve such expressiveness on the 12-string. While I'm not the biggest fan of atonal/12-tone music, you write and play it beautifully.

- Jon Grindstaff,
 Galaxy Lounge

"Dear Kevin,
I have just received the new CD Parabola, thank you. I have listened to 4 or 5 tracks so far and have a couple of favourites already track 2, 6 and 7. I like how the music blends and eases you into a different mind set. I like the music very much you and Sandor have a similar style. The music seems to me to capture my imagination with thoughts of nature and the complexity of the environment around come to my mind with also lots of different emotions emerging from inside me when I listen to your music. On top of that I am also intrigued with the musicianship you both have in regards to making the music flow and the different tunings. The music sounds improvised yet then sounds like it is a piece that has been written on purpose. 
Very nice original and thought provoking music, I will listen to your music further tonight. Thank you again for your CD, it is a pleasure to listen to your music."

Thank You,
- George Ziatas,
Ziata Guitars


"Hi Kevin, Thank you for expanding the boundaries of guitar music."

- Mark Wesling
Philadelphia, PA


"Kevin, I love your music and look forward to downloading it. Being a writer it's perfect for my work. Keep them coming!  Blessings."

- Patty Henderson
Houston, TX

"Hi Kevin,
Awesomely inventive music! Congratulations! I just ordered "Parallel Crossings + Resonance." Thanks for creating!"

- Ken,
Seattle, WA

Compliments for your Music. Beautiful atmospheres!  Beautiful feeling."

- Luigi Pellissetti,


Thank-you so very much for Parabola. This recording seems to take the weaving thoughts and shapes of your previous recordings and just expands them into a depth that is satisfying on a cellular and soul level. The artfulness of this creation is impossible to deny, but far from being relegated to the snobbery of simply the mind, it's wholeness seems to satisfy naturally the emotionally needs in music. The way it forms shapes within the mind, the way it communicates with the spirit, in light and shadow, in color and shape is remarkable. I cannot get over how synchronous you and Sandor are together, the two voices blending so perfectly and yet maintaining their own brilliant individuality. The deftness of the playing belays a confidence that seems to allow the music to exist effortlessly, as if you both are channeling the strands of the universe through your fingers. Not everyone can give themselves so entirely to the moment, which is why I think these songs just come off as dewdrops of beauty. The entire CD seems to breath with life, not only because of the richness of the instruments or because of the awake mindfulness and sumptuousness of the playing but because the music itself seems to be trembling with consciousness. This is music that interacts with the listener, not a passive statement, rather a collaboration between the notes and the listener that seems to be living entity, freed from the constraints of propriety and convention. It is as if the music moves beyond the simple recording of one moment in time, but grows, alive and pregnant with meaning, changing the very space around it. The music expands beyond itself, beyond the moment of it's creation, bright with life, full to the brim with the nuances of nature. Frantic at times, peaceful at others, it feels almost as if the sound were coloured as richly as a field of wildflowers. It should be no surprise that Cartesian Other is my favorite of the songs, I have a preponderance for music that serenades and aches with beauty. It has a dreamy quality even within the bell like resonance of the notes that feels almost meditative. I must mention though Trencadis, which I was in awe of. My only thought was; this is the evolution of music. Bravo Kevin, your music is startling in its clarity and depth, and this recording has taken your playing and music itself to a whole new level of consciousness. I cannot even imagine what your next recording will sound like, but if this one is any indication I feel certain history will remember you as a shaper of musical thought and understanding.

I have now listened twice to the CD, and each time the presence of your music seems to hover around me long after the notes are finished. You read about universes within universes, but somehow your music eases the edges around such thoughts until all seems to be in perfect alignment. When listening I am always struck by the feeling that this music dissipates the confines of what is seen, as if the spirit were slipping behind the stage of reality, replete with the understanding of all that goes unseen. Truly you are boundless in what you create, Kevin. Words always seem so limiting, so I struggle to put the vastness of the thoughts, the vastness of your music into the confines of words. If I could I would simply give you my thoughts, my feelings such that you could understand how deeply this record affects me."

- Sora,


(From an email to Sándor Szabó:)
"I listened to your recordings. It was a real treat to hear you with Michael Manring. He's been a favorite of mine since his early work with Michael Hedges. You and he blend beautifully. There's some very complex rhythm interplay that honestly took me a while to settle into. It was well worth it. My preference though, is for the Kevin Kastning recording Parabola. It too, is challenging to get into at first, though very rewarding. It's hard to believe there are two people in the world with not only similar instruments, but a two-minds-one-heart approach to music making. Where you begin and end and where he begins and ends is blurred, and more importantly, made unimportant! It's a levitating experience and one I'm excited for you to continue!  Thanks for sharing."

- Killick Erik Hinds,
Georgia (US)


"Your music is so adventurous and rich. There’s a bit of all in it, all different sounds and images. Goose pimples (Reflective Asymmetry)!  Thank you again."

- Jan Van Kelst,

"Kevin Kastning, an artist endorser of Santa Cruz Guitar Company, is one incredible musician and a fine fellow. His music is fresh, thought-provoking, and complex. On my first listen to a recording by Kevin and Hungarian guitarist Guitarist Sándor Szabó I thought they must be playing from a score, but I found later it is mostly improvised. They feed off each other! It's quite a treat! The alto guitar in the photos below was custom built by SCGC for Kevin. I enjoyed working with Kevin and the folks at SCGC (great folks!) - discussing the project and helping to select the back and side wood (European maple) for the guitar. You must check out Kevin's website and music at:"

- John Preston,
Old World Tonewood Co.