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“I chose the role of the drummer in this imaginary band…”

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. Here my teachers were Iván Nesztor, Imre Kőszegi, György Jeszenszky and Tamás Berdisz. I participated in master classes led by Jeff Ballard, Ed Thigpen, Joey Barron, Antonio Sanchez, Ferenc Németh 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 premanent sub in Szabolcs Oláh’s Quartet and performed in bands led by Csaba Czirják, Mátyás Szandai, Nikoletta Szőke, Juli Fábián, István Regős, Károly Gáspár and János Ávéd. With some of these bands, we took first prizes on national jazz compatitions (see list below).

I have been a founding member of the Júlia Karosi Quartet, with whom we recorded two albums by Wherabout Records, in 2012 and one by Dot Time Records in 2014. Between 2011 and 2013 I was a member of the Kristóf Bacsó Quartet, together with Kornél Fekete-Kovács and József Barcza Horváth.

In 2015 I founded my own band featuring saxophonist János Ávéd, guitarists Csaba Czirják and Márton Fenvyesi, 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 and folk melodies. 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.

As of 2009, in addition to performing, teaching is also an important part of my life. Presently, I am teaching percussion at the Gyula Erkel School of Music in Budapest, which I tremendously enjoy.

Competitions

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

Alba Regia Jazz Fest – Székesfehérvár, Hungary (2016) – Bendegúz Varga Quintet

Debrecen Wine and Jazz Days – Debrecen, 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

Művészetek Völgye – 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 Band – 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)