On his third release as a leader, Istanbul based pianist, Burak Bedikyan seamlessly blends his dual education in western classical and jazz and his national/ethnic heritage into an intriguing and cohesive album. Awakening comprises of nine Bedikyan originals that are elegantly crafted balancing intricate harmonies with deceptively effortless fluidity.
The gently rolling refrains on the lilting ballad "Mother Earth," for instance, have a warm, Near Eastern lyricism. Saxophonist Loren Stillman embellishes the melancholic theme with yearning spontaneous phrases filled with passion. Bedikyan fashions his expressive solo with series of resonant notes that ring with wistful poetry.
Stillman and Bedikyan trade contemplative and dynamic lines on the dramatic "Do Not Fear." Over Bedikyan's shimmering keys, Bassist Ugonna Okegwo plays a lithe and darkly hued soliloquy with a mystical edge. Stillman's exquisitely tender and emotive improvisation ushers in the piece's conclusion.
At times the disc also crackles with visceral energy and breathtaking instrumental acrobatics. On the hard bop-ish "Idée Fixe," Bedikyan lets loose a cascade of dense chords with delightful agility. His arpeggio filled performance ebbs and flows with crystalline lucidity and a vibrant, organic sound. Stillman's vibrato filled muscular alto meanders with nimble dexterity around the band's percolating vamps. Drummer Donald Edwards's thunderous beats and exuberant polyrhythms bring the music back to the gripping head.
Stillman opens the expansive "Unfair Blues" with fiery lines and a soulful swagger. Bedikyan weaves an eloquent and earthy melody together with Edwards' thumping kit and Okegwo's reverberating strings. The four men exhibit captivating camaraderie in a stimulating conversation that is one of the tune's highlights.
With Awakening Bedikyan, as a composer and a musician, has achieved his personal best to date. The motifs he utilized in previous recordings, his intelligent inventiveness and charming virtuosity have all coalesced into a superb and mature work. If he stays the course Bedikyan is certainly assured a bright future and a promising career.
Idée Fixe; Mother Earth; All Alone; Unfair Blues; Awakening; Memory Of A Fading
Dream; Ad Infinitum; Do Not Fear; The All Seeing Eye.
Burak Bedikyan: piano; Donald Edwards: drums; Loren Stillman; alto and soprano
saxophones; Ugonna Okegwo: bass.
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