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Eldar Djangirov: Eldar (2005)

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Eldar Djangirov: Eldar How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

He's only eighteen, but he's making quite an impression everywhere he goes and in every corner of the world where his music can be enjoyed. This album, his third, is a straight-ahead collection of favorite songs with several originals. His acoustic trio interprets each of them with sensual passion.

Eldar, who has chosen not to use the last name Djangirov, is from Kyrgyzstan. The Sony Classical label has captured his superb grand piano leaps admirably as he improvises at length with great poise. The strength he reveals at the keyboard works both ways: his dynamic range from pianissimo to fortissimo reveals an innate feel for this natural form of communication.

Now living in the United States and continuing his education at the Francis Parker School in San Diego on an academic scholarship, Eldar finds time to enjoy the kind of jazz music that thrilled his father, as well as the technical keyboard achievements that his mother provided him through training at an early age. The grand piano is his medium for self-expression. Through it, Eldar is able to excite and soothe, reflect and explore, open up with fiery passion, and shrink into an introspective sphere.

With his "Watermelon Island," he's captured the mood that rocked the world over forty years ago. It's the only track on which John Patitucci switches to electric bass guitar. The trio rips this one with hip-swingin' action.

Two Monk reflections, one Herbie Hancock chestnut, and several diamonds in the history of modern jazz keep the program on familiar ground. Eldar's piano artistry carries with it a quality that is at once user-friendly and fresh. He charges ahead full steam in places and exhibits a remarkable technique. Elsewhere, he lingers with the emotional maturity of a veteran. He may not have paid his dues just yet, but he brings a natural grasp of the language of jazz to the forum. Eldar is a must-hear album.

Track Listing: Sweet Georgia Brown; Nature Boy; Moanin'; Point of View with Michael Brecker; Raindrops; Lady Wicks; Maiden Voyage; 'Round Midnight; Ask Me Now; Watermelon Island; Fly Me to the Moon.

Personnel: Eldar- piano; John Patitucci- bass; Todd Strait- drums; Michael Brecker- tenor saxophone on "Point of View with Michael Brecker."

Record Label: Sony Classical


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