Eldar Djangirov: Breakthrough (2013)
As a very young pianist getting a lot of press, Djangirov was subject to the usual raves and criticism that accompany the arrival of a child prodigy. Many a writer found nice things to say about the technique that this promising pianist possessed, and a few people found fault in the fact that his technique was the dominant aspect of his artistry; twelve year olds, apparently, tend to be easy targets for those perched behind a desk. Now, at the ripe old age of twenty six, Djangirov has delivered something that may just get the majority of those betting against him early on to rethink things.
Breakthrough is a portrait of the artist as a young man, but this young man already knows who he is, what he wants to say, and how he plans on saying it. Djangirov can be direct and transparent in his musical delivery ("No Moon At All") or purposefully duplicitous ("Breakthrough"). He takes some classics at face value and twists others a bit to suit his viewpoint ("Somebody Loves Me"), but all of his decisions are ultimately made for the good of the performance(s).
This is a trio outing, and a fine one at that, but it doesn't always feel like a three man show. Djangirov's music can be incredibly busy and complex or simple and elegant. He uses breakaway piano episodes as opportunities to explore the solo piano realm within a trio context and he has no problem asking his trio mates to shift from background to foreground, depending on what the music calls for; they comply beautifully. Saxophonist Chris Potter and vibraphonist Joe Locke drop in on one number apiece, further adding to the feeling that this isn't a run-of-the-mill trio date. Potter works his magic on the knotty title track and Locke joins in on the heart-pounding "Blink."
Djangirov's passive-aggressive pianistic tendencies make Breakthrough into a tale of two personality traits. One minute he might be ruminating on a classic theme in contemplative fashion and the next minute he might be tearing through one of his tricky originals like a post-modern Chick Corea on uppers. This who-knows-which-Djangirov-you'll-get approach is at the heart of the brilliant Breakthrough.
Track Listing: Point Of View Redux; Somebody Loves Me; Breakthrough; What'll I Do; Morning Bell; In Pursuit; No Moon At All; Hope; Tokyo Pulse; Blink; Good Morning Heartache.
Personnel: Eldar Djangirov: piano; Armando Gola: bass; Ludwig Alfonso: drums; Chris Potter: tenor saxophone (3); Joe Locke: vibraphone (10).
Record Label: Motema Music
Style: Modern Jazz