When I was a child, I always had vivid interest in music. It was nurtured by a little drum of pot and piece of hide that my grandfather made me when I was eight. While in high school, two friends of mine and I founded an imaginary rock band, without any formal musical training, or even owning any instruments. I chose the role of the drummer in this band that started to take shape. After my friends invested in real instruments and I also decided to buy my first drum set. That is how I became a drummer. Two years later, I began my studies with Imre Rácz, who played an important role in moving my focus toward Jazz.
My path to a full-time career as a jazz drummer was temporaily halted by my parents’ insistance on my liberal arts education. Upon this pressure, I agreed to enroll in the Master’s Program in Geography at Budapest’s Eötvös Loránd University. While in College, music was overshadowed in my life by my academic work. In my senior year, when “I broke the neck of my studies,” I felt it was time to resume serious studies in music, for which I had been craving for years. With a sudden resolution, I enrolled to the Erkel Ferenc Music School, currently part of the Bartók Béla Conservatory. Even though I finished my Master’s degree at the University, my musical development bacame the core intrest in my life.
At the Erkel School, my principal teachers were Tamás Geröly and Gábor Juhász, who led the ensemble training courses. During this time, I got my first professional gigs and became member of my first working bands. One of my most influential teachers, however, was the Hungarian legend, András Mohay. He shaped my technique and vocabulary of improvisational patterns, with countless hours of coaching, for which I am forever grateful.
In 2006 I was admitted to the Jazz Department of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, and four years later I earned my BA in Jazz Drum Education and Performance. In 2018 I earned my Master Degree, too. Here my teachers were Iván Nesztor, Imre Kőszegi, György Jeszenszky, Tamás Berdisz and Ákos Benkó. I participated in master classes led by Jeff Ballard, Ed Thigpen, Joey Barron, Antonio Sanchez, Ferenc Németh, Howard Curtis and Péter Szendőfi.
During my years at the Liszt Academy, I got into my first professional bands such as the Márton Fenyvesi Trio and Trio Minor, led by Attila Rieger. I was a permanent sub in Szabolcs Oláh’s Quartet and performed in bands led by Csaba Czirják, Mátyás Szandai, Ágnes Lakatos, Nikoletta Szőke, Juli Fábián, István Regős and János Ávéd. With some of these bands, we took first prizes on national jazz compatitions (see list below). I performed on numerous jazz festivals and in noted jazz clubs in Hungary, France, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Romania and Kazakhstan (see list below). Between 2011 and 2013 I was a member of the Kristóf Bacsó Quartet, together with Kornél Fekete-Kovács and József Barcza Horváth. For almost a decade I was a member of Trio Minor. We toured several times with French chromatic harmonica artist Laurent Maur.
I have been a founding member of the Júlia Karosi Quartet, with whom we recorded two albums by Wherabout Records in 2012, one by Dot Time Records in 2014, featuring New York based saxophonist Tobias Meinhart. Last year came out a live recorded Gershwin album. A new recording will be coming soon this year, featuring american guitarist Ben Monder.
Since 2016 I’m a member of the Károly Gáspár Trio. The renowned pianist’s debut album by Hunnia Records, “The Outsider” won the readers poll of jazzma.hu and became the best Hungarian album of 2017, according to the voters. New album by Tom-Tom Records Budapest is coming this year.
In 2015 I founded my own band featuring saxophonist János Ávéd, guitarists Csaba Czirják and Márton Fenyvesi, bassist Ádám Bögöthy. We performed with great success in well-known jazz clubs and major jazz festivals in Hungary. The musicians are among the most respected young musicians of the Hungarian jazz scene, performing in many projects and leading their own bands. The Bendegúz Varga Quintet plays original compositions, a various list of rock songs, modern jazz standards. The instrumentation congregates the members varied musical influences, while acknowledging the common ground: the traditional acoustic jazz. The contender playing of the two extraordinary guitarists, and the intimate atmosphere of the saxophone’s ballad interpretation characterizes the sound of this unique band set up. The band’s debut album entitled “Goldmund” was released in the spring of 2018.
Daniel Szabo about “Goldmund”
““Goldmund,” the new album of Bendeguz Varga, is a really nice musical statement, composed, performed and recorded by a group of younger Hungarian musicians who all have a broad musical view due to their worldwide travels and studies. When listening to this music, it soon becomes very obvious that all the band members are well versed in contemporary jazz idioms, undoubtedly keeping up with the standards of the international scene. A strong influence of these days’ “New York- jazz-scene” and some of its well-known performer-composers can be easily discovered, as well. It seems that Varga and his group proudly committed themselves to incorporating these obvious musical references. However, this would not be enough, in themselves, to make this album intriguing in the current, infinitely prolific music market which surrounds us with an almost uncontrollable stream of new, either valuable or sometimes less valuable products.
What makes this set of tunes interesting and urges us to go back for further listening is the fact that each of the songs has a very strong personality and a unique color! As in a great book where the magic glues us to our chairs, this album has an engaging story with well-defined characters; some of the chapters are whirling and adventurous, some are calmer and contemplative. In the meantime, the band plays with a homogeneous sound throughout the “story.” That’s what makes the “book” consistent enough. It’s also worth mentioning that each instrumental solo witnesses mastery, elaboration of nuances and tastefulness. In addition, without engaging in any arbitrary categorization, the hints of Eastern-European folk idioms and ambiance can also be heard in some of the pieces.
This recording is a nice new color on the current jazz-palette, and as such, is highly recommended!”
Los Angeles, March 3, 2018
Daniel Szabo (Award-Winning Pianist-Composer-Educator, Faculty Member at UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in Los Angeles)
Ferenc Nemeth about “Goldmund”
“Beautiful music! It’s an album full of surprises. The calm and dreamy intro sets the mood for a journey that pleases the listener’s ears and souls. The sequence of the songs will take you through scenes that are cinematic, powerful and sometimes dramatic. Even though it’s a drummer’s album, the drums is not over powering. Bendeguz supports the band while keeping his role as a band leader. You can definitely feel the influence of Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mark Turner and Brian Blade on the compositions and arrangements, but the album got its own voice. Exciting rhythmic transitions, soundscapes and funky rhythms will keep the listener captivated throughout this album.”
New York City, March 19, 2018
Ferenc Nemeth (Drummer-Composer)
Hungarian Jazz Federation’s Combo Competition 2007: First Prize – Márton Fenyvesi Trio (Márton Fenyvesi-Balázs Horváth-Bendegúz Varga)
1st Jazz Jump Showcase of Millenáris Teátrum 2007: First Prize – János Ávéd Trio (János Ávéd-Ernő Hock-Bendegúz Varga)
Balatonfüred Jazz Festival jazz competition, 2008: First Prize – Márton Fenyvesi Trio (Márton Fenyvesi-Balázs Horváth-Bendegúz Varga)
Hungarian Jazz Federation’s Combo Competition 2008: First Prize – Trio Minor (Attila Rieger-Balázs Horváth-Bendegúz Varga)
Hungarian Jazz Federation’s Combo Competition 2010: Second Prize – Júlia Karosi Quartet (Júlia Karosi-Tamás Balázs-Balázs Horváth-Bendegúz Varga)
Festivals, international and other important performances
Jazz Showcase – Palace of Arts, Festival Theatre – Budapest, Hungary (2019) – Júlia Karosi Quartet feat. Ben Monder
Sziget Festival, House of Hungarian Music – Budapest, Hungary (2018) – Júlia Karosi Quartet
Valley of Arts – Kapolcs, Hungary (2018) – Károly Gáspár Trio feat. Gábor Winand
Opus Jazz Club – Budapest, Hungary (2018) – Bendegúz Varga: Goldmund Album Release Concert (János Ávéd-Dániel Mester-Csaba Czirják-Márton Fenyvesi-Ádám Bögöthy-Bendegúz Varga)
Debrecen Wine and Jazz Days – Debrecen, Hungary (2017) – Károly Gáspár Trio feat. Kriszta Pocsai
Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Solti Hall – Budapest, Hungary (2016) – Júlia Karosi Quartet: A Gershwin Night (with RTQ String Quartet arr. and con. by Márton Fenyvesi)
Transylvanian Tour with performance in “Atelier Cafe” in Cluj (2016) – Bendegúz Varga Quintet
Alba Regia Jazz Fest – Székesfehérvár, Hungary (2016) – Bendegúz Varga Quintet
German Tour with performance in “b-flat Jazz Club” in Berlin (2015) – Júlia Karosi Quartet feat. Tobias Meinhart
jazzahead! Festival – Bremen, Germany (2014) – Júlia Karosi Quartet feat. Tobias Meinhart, performances with Chiarra Izzi and Erin Dickins
Budapest Spring Festival – Budapest, Hungary (2014) – Júlia Karosi: Hidden Roots Album Release Concert (Júlia Karosi-Áron Tálas-Ádám Bögöthy-Bendegúz Varga-Tobias Meinhart-Linda Kovács)
Festival Doda Sosoku – Piestiany, Slovakia (2013) – Júlia Karosi Quartet feat. Tobias Meinhart
Czech Tour with performances on Festival Prima Sezóna in Náchod, in JazzDock Prague, Reduta Jazz Club Prague (2013) – Júlia Karosi Quartet
Almaty International Jazz Festival – Almaty, Kazakhstan (2012 and 2013) – Kristóf Bacsó Quartet
Valley of Arts – Kapolcs, Hungary (2011) – Kristóf Bacsó Trio (Kristóf Bacsó-Márton Fenyvesi-Bendegúz Varga)
Festival of Hungarian Jazz – Budapest Jazz Club, Budapest (2011) – Kristóf Bacsó Quartet, Júlia Karosi Quartet
French Tour with performance on Festival Jazz les 24 heures Swing de Monségur en Gironde (2010) – Thomas Bercy & Trio Minor feat. Sarah Piet
Tribute To Monk – Mikszáth Kálmán Műv. K, Balassagyarmat, Hungary (2009) – Mátyás Szandai Quartet (Mátyás Szandai-Dániel Szabó-Kristóf Bacsó-Bendegúz Varga)
Centre Pompidou Jeudi’s – Paris, France (2008) – solo and duo performance with János Ávéd
International Jazzfestival – Osijek, Croatia (2008) – Márton Fenyvesi Trio
Európa Jazzhíd – Budapest, Hungary (2008) – Miklós Borbély-Márton Fenyvesi Quintet (Miklós Borbély-Márton Fenyvesi-Mátyás Gayer-Norbert Farkas-Bendegúz Varga)
MOL Jazz Festival – Pinceszínház, Budapest, Hungary (2007) – Csaba Czirják Quintet (Csaba Czirják-Kristóf Bacsó-Dániel Szabó-Mátyás Szandai-Bendegúz Varga)
BMC Music Flash – Palace of Arts, Budapest, Hungary (2007) – Szabolcs Oláh Quartet (Szabolcs Oláh-Dániel Mester-Márton Soós-Bendegúz Varga)
Nagykanizsa Jazz Festival – Nagykanizsa (2006) – Dóra Szolnoki Zamique (Dóra Szolnoki-Attila Eőry-András Somos-Zsófi Hudák-Bendegúz Varga-Iván Somló)
Balatonfüred Jazz Festival – Balatonfüred, Hungary (2005) – Artemisz Polonyi Quintet (Artemisz Polonyi-Gábor Csongrádi-Ernő Rubik-Zsolt Feke-Bendegúz Varga)
Nyitott Műhely – Budapest, Hungary (2004) – Bálint Gyémánt Trio (Bálint Gyémánt-Ádám Bornemissza-Bendegúz Varga)