There are plenty of voices on the Hungarian jazz scene, a lot of them good. But there’s one new voice that will grab your attention the way the others won’t. It’s the voice of Erika Kertész
. What’s different about it? Hard to say. Is it the throaty, soothing mezzo range? Or the melancholy sincerity of her interpretations? Is it the pure intonation, the expressive bending of the blue notes, or maybe the clarity of her English pronunciation? All of those things, to be sure. But it’s got that special something that you just can’t put your finger on. And it’s got the magnetism that will draw you in, quietly, but surely.
Erika Kertész was born in Pécs and raised in Kaposvár, Hungary. In 1989 she moved with her family to Budapest, where she attended a music-specialist elementary school. She took up the piano at the age of 7 and began the violin at about age 9, learning classical music through high school. She also sang in the school choir, a defining experience in her love of singing.
The music she grew up with at home, however, was not classical, but pop. Her interest in jazz led her to study jazz singing for several years with Tamás Berki. She started looking for other musicians to work with, but had no luck. No one was heading in the same direction.
She was beginning to have doubts about a career in music when she met English jazz guitarist Jay Myerson
in March, 2006. They embarked on a musical partnership that defined her style and goals in music. After establishing a basis of jazz standards they both knew, Erika suggested they make their own jazzy arrangements of the pop songs of the 70s, 80s and 90s that she’d grown up with and loved. This became the core of her constantly expanding present repertory. With a bass player they formed the Erika Kertész Trio and began playing clubs in Budapest, such as Isolabella Café, Tabu Lounge, Tajtékos napok, Soho Café and Vera Jazz Café. Erika and Jay also recorded some jazz standards, including “Autumn Leaves,” “No More Blues” and “Days of Wine and Roses.” At Christmas, 2006 they produced a three-song demo CD with their relaxed, moody arrangements of “Just the Two of Us,” “Jesus to a Child,” and “The Real Thing.”
When Myerson moved back to England in August, 2007 Erika began a new phase in her career, and started to work with pianist Márton Somogyi
. In addition to the aforementioned clubs, they added new clubs to their list of venues.
In 2008 Erika took a new direction. She began composing her own songs, and made changes in her usual repertoire too. As a new project she started to sing Seal covers in her own cool, laid-back style with pianist Márton Somogyi and drummer Márk Badics by her side. You can listen to a couple of covers presented by Sealin' here!
Between January and November of 2009 she was a member and singer of the band called Best Newcomers
. This was the first time she sang her originals to the audience.
In April 2009 she founded E.K.Avenue
with 3 amazing Hungarian musicians, Róbert Rátonyi
(piano), Péter Szendőfi
(drums) and György Frey
At first they played jazz standards and cover songs from the '80-'90s, but as months went by, more and more original songs appeared in their repertoire, written by Erika, arranged by the guys. In January, 2010 they have recorded their first album, Little Girl
. The genre of the 13 originals is hard to categorize, it is the stylish and unique mixture of funky grooves, soulful melodies and jazzy arrangements.