Oct 21, 2009
genius beyond most young people I’ve
Heavy words from a jazz master, particularly when he is talking about 22 year old Eldar Djangirov, a keyboard player whose latest CD, Virtue, confirms that he is among the most talented players on the scene today. Born in Kyrgyzstan (what was at the time of his birth part of the Soviet Union), Eldar emigrated to the US wiht his family in 1998. In a short time, he became the youngest guest ever to appear on Marian McPartland's "Piano Jazz" show. Signed to the Sony Classical label, he has released four CDs on the label.
I had the pleasure of speaking with him last week as he readied himself for a multi-night engagement at Yoshi's in Oakland, California, and Podcast 162 presents that conversation along with music from his releases, including:
"Dream Song“ from Re-Imagination. Recorded three years later after signing with Sony Classical, this CD was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. Eldar adds some electronic experiments, including the addition of DJ Logic on a few tracks. This recording is a solo piano piece, showing Eldar’s debt to Oscar Peterson, Chick Corea and Dr. Billy Taylor.
"Lullaby Fantazia" from Virtue. While keyboard pyrotechnics are Eldar’s strength, this track shows off his soulful side, as he glides through the track with a graceful left hand and melodic right hand, reminiscent in sound to Keith Jarrett’s solo work.
“Blackjack” from Virtue. Trumpet star Nicholas Payton joins the trio for this up-tempo number, weaving between the strong rhythm section of Ludwig Afonso (drums) and Armondo Gola (bass). Never afraid to move the number along at an accelerated pace, he adds electric keyboards to the sound, showing why he may be the finest young technician in jazz today.
“Matrix” from Handprints. At the age of 16, Eldar recorded this trio album with Gerald Spaits on bass and Todd Strait on drums. Composed mainly of standards, he covers Chick Corea’s classic “Matrix”. Corea is one pianist to whom Eldar is often compared. Not bad company!