Lucky to Be Me is the fifth release by the talented pianist/composer Taylor Eigsti, and his first on the Concord label. Concord thought enough of Eigsti's label debut to bracket him with some of the best players in the business, including Christian McBride and Lewis Nash. And given the numerous photos of this handsome 21 year-old, they also seem to be positioning him as the next pop idoland why not, when it's becoming increasingly important to introduce the next generation to authentic jazz?
In fact, this is one of Eigsti's own goals, as expressed here two years ago. It's evident in his choice and updating of materialhis vibrant readings of "Giant Steps" and "Love for Sale," for exampleas well as the inclusion of a ballad by Björk and a funky "Sopranos" theme peppered with Tower of Power-like horns. But Eigsti's respect for tradition is also obvious in his beautiful reharmonization of "Darn that Dream," his headlong celebration of Eddie Harris's "Freedom Dance," and even his arrangement of Mussorgsky's "Promenade." Eigsti highlights his compositional gifts are with three of his own pieces and one written with guitarist Julian Lage. The album closes with a tender solo take on Leonard Bernstein's "Lucky to Be Me," which takes on special poignancy after reading about Eigsti's early losses of his father and sister.
It's abundantly clear that Eigsti has the technique, sensitivity, imagination and taste to be one of the great pianists of this new century, and some day he'll be reviewed without any mention of his age. Right now the prodigy references are inevitable, but this impressive recording stands on its own: it's the kind of exciting CD that predicts a long and sparkling career.
Track Listing: Giant Steps; Get Your Hopes Up; Love for Sale; I've Seen it All; Argument; True Colors; Woke
Up This Morning; Promenade; Adventure One; Darn That Dream; Freedom Jazz Dance; Lucky
to be Me.
Personnel: Taylor Eigsti: piano; Christian McBride, James Genus: bass; Lewis Nash, Billy Kilson:
drums; Greg Adams, Brian Swartz: trumpet; Julian Lage: guitar; Eric Marienthal, Ben
Wendel, Adam Shroeder: saxophones; Garrett Smith: trombone.
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.