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Taylor Eigsti: Lucky to Be Me

Dr. Judith Schlesinger By

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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 idol—and 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 material—his vibrant readings of "Giant Steps" and "Love for Sale," for example—as 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.

Title: Lucky To Be Me | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Concord Music Group

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