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Fans of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz may have read the program synopsis with reservations when 12 year old Eldar Djangirov made his U.S. broadcast debut on her program a few years ago, but he quickly proved that he deserved the national exposure. A polite young man who was still getting used to living in a new country, Eldar doesn't seem overly infatuated with his budding talent, though he clearly impresses his host with formidable chops for someone so young.
He begins with an arrangement of "Emily" that he credits to Marian, though she admits that someone else transcribed her recording. Bill Evans' emotional ballad "Turn Out the Stars" is a bit more difficult for him, as Eldar plays it with accuracy but without the benefit of having experienced major upheavals that might have caused him to perform it with more feeling.
He could almost be mistaken for Oscar Peterson with the ease that he glides through the flourishes of the Canadian giant's "Place St. Henri," not to mention a Peterson practice routine that he demonstrates for Marian. McPartland, known for her ballad artistry, offers moving interpretations of "I Cover the Waterfront" and improvises a spontaneous portrait of her guest. The chemistry between the young man and the veteran pianist during their duets is obvious, including "Take the A Train," "Autumn Leaves" and a fun romp through "Now's the Time." Since his first Piano Jazz appearance, Eldar (as he now bills himself) has recorded four CDs as a leader and made a return visit to the show. But he obviously is grateful to Marian McPartland for contributing to his budding career, which seems to be in full swing at the moment.
Tracks: Emily; Turn Out the Stars; Eldar's Practice Routines; Take the A Train; I Cover the Waterfront; Autumn Leaves; Place St. Henri; Whisper Not; Portrait of Eldar Djangirov; Now's the Time.
Personnel: Eldar: piano; Marian McPartland: piano.