Pianist Arthur Satyan has been a stalwart of the Lebanese jazz scene after moving from Armenia in 1996. In addition to heading the jazz department at the national music conservatoire, Satyan is a sought after performer whose reputation goes beyond both his native land and his adopted home. Among his international accolades is his second place award at the 2018 edition of 7 Virtual Jazz Club competition, and it is with the same trio that he recorded Playing Around. On this ebullient and engaging third release as a leader, Satyan and his sidemen interpret nine of his boppish originals with elegance and spirit.
The title track is bluesy and whimsical with crisp refrains and a swaggering cadence. Satyan effortlessly embellishes the main theme with breathtaking virtuosity without losing sight of its melodic core. Drummer Paolo Orlandi spars with Satyan in a series of delightful exchanges ushering in the closing head.
Orlandi showcases his expressive musicianship with a polyrhythmic and thunderous solo on "Theme for Two." This winning entry to the above mentioned contest features Satyan pushing his improvisational boundaries with thrilling agility while the ensemble delivers an electrifying performance. Bassist Khachatur Savzyan bisects the tune with a haunting and lyrical extemporization.
"Talk Song" starts off with Satyan's hypnotic chords and isinfused with a bittersweet melancholy. Satyan's sashaying pianism together with Orlandi and Savzyan's rumbling vamps create a dense and layered performance that brims with passion.
On Playing Around Satyan not only showcases his superb artistry and deft pianism, he also demonstrates his intriguing compositional skills. The brilliance of all three musicians, and their camaraderie, enhances makes this album from the first note to the last.
Playing Around; Bop 'N' Roll; Movin' Out; Dream on the Rocks; Art's Minor Blues; Little Girl Liana; Round About
'F'; Talk Song; Theme for Two.
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