Pianist/composer Misha Piatigorsky's debut, Uncommon Circumstances (Misha Music, 2007), was an enjoyable effort, with the exception of his overuse of electronic keyboards. Aya represents a new direction, with mixed results.
Piatigorsky cites, in his notes, that as a busy and in-demand musician he is involved in a number of projects and wants to provide an album representative of his diverse interests and musicians. His aim is to emulate Quincy Jones's style of employing various genres and moods.
The first half of the album features vocalists Barbara Mendes (wife of Sergio), Judy Bady, Ayelet Piatigorsky (his wife) and Rahj, a rap artist. While this does offer diversity, it also detracts from the instrumental tracks, which far more interesting. Despite Piatigorsky writing all the tracks, the vocals are unexceptional. Mendes has the most pleasing voice, and is especially effective on "Baiao Banana, a Brazilian-influenced composition, and on "One Time and Again.
Piatigorsky's instrumentals, augmented with horns, project different moods. The funky "Boogaloo Madness," includes a nice solo from trumpeter Omar Kabir, while "Montevideo" (a reprise from Uncommon Circumstances) features alto saxophonist Boris Kurganov.
Uncommon Circumstances proved Piatigorsky a most interesting pianist. While there are no electronic keyboards on Aya, Piatigorsky does show his Hammond B3 skills on several tracks.
Track Listing: Mama Got Me Thinkin'; Low Talk; Sancte Katherine; Green Monkey; Amerikana; Boogaloo Madness; Promises; Montevideo; Dance of the Chilean Turtles; One Time and Again (Anatalya's Lullaby); Je Me Souvien; Baiao Banana.
Personnel: Misha Piatigorsky: piano, Hammond B3, percussion; Barbara Mendes: vocals (1, 5, 10, 12); Judy Bady: vocals (2, 7, 11); Rahj: spoken word (2); Peter Klinke: bass; Willard Dyson: drums; Omar Kabir: trumpet, trombone; Boris Kurganov: alto saxophone.