Riding the crest since his powerful mid-2000s debut, pianist Eldar Djangirov
entertains with a myriad of styles, shapes and colors. They all seem to fit him as well as personally designed piano shoes. It falls short to say that this record is dynamic. It fuses genres into a singular, yet wide, creation that features seven original compositions and four imaginative interpretations from Bach to Dizzy Gillespie
and from Soundgarden to Art Tatum
. The trio is energized, and completed by bassist Raviv Markovitz
and drummer Jimmy Macbride
. They manage to insert their own distinctive voices while never jamming up the freeway that is Djangirov.
The trio comes out firing on all cylinders on the classic "A Night in Tunisia." It is descriptive of a wild night of fun, gaiety and partying till dawn. Fiercely driven by Djangirov, the tune breaks at the change with a more subdued bass line and cymbals indicating catching one's breath before rising again and climaxing in the wee hours of the morning. There's a lot going on at an "Airport," if one is to observe and people watch. This original song could just as easily be about a jog through Central Park or the sights and sounds of a river cruise. It's all in how you take in those moments. Musically rich in design and temperament, it leads into the vivid imagination and relentless tempo of another original entitled "Anthemic." Djangirov attacks with abandon through a bevy of twists and turns. Paced well by Macbride and Markovitz, this is an inventive piece of music of epic proportions.
Slowing it down, as if there was any other direction to go, the softly charismatic etchings of "Willow Weep for Me" fall softly on the ear and smoothly transition the mood into one of reflection and contemplation. Tempered against delicate bass lines and brushes, the tune evolves into a bluesy escape. "Burn" jumps right back into the fire (okay, I just had to say it) with a Djangirov hard bop composition. The trio's symmetry is of the highest order on this selection that is well written, well played and well arranged. It checks all the boxes. Fusion and prog rock collide in a surprising and superb take on "Black Hole Sun." It would be fair to say that creativity and vigor collided as well. The trio emerge with a vibrant unity of intent and purpose.
As you might expect, a Soundgarden tune is followed by Bach. "Variations on a Bach Prelude" offers up the jaunty side of Djangirov, as well as his extraordinary mastership of the keyboards. Uniquely pushing the boundaries of Bach, the impressions are squarely in the middle of tradition and the twenty-first century. "In July" we often bask in a glorious sunny day on the beach, in the countryside, or in a pleasant valley. This original may take you there and leave your stress behind. A soft and quiet touch is implemented by the trio. They were in no rush, so as to savor every moment. The title track leaves a lot of room for improvisation. "Rhapsodize" is an opportunity to stretch your legs. The trio did just that in joyously riding a groove in and through innumerable directions. Time to chill, and Djangirov does so in the form of a beautiful soliloquy. The underlying theme is that of inspiration and guidance in his "Devotion" to fulfillment and happiness. Instrumentally, it's elegant and stylish on all counts. The final track is a song that embodies Djangirov's immense skills in composition and performance. "Blackjack" is a complex masterpiece that engulfs many levels of piano magnitude. Delivered with authority and an air of confidence it brings the record to a superlative ending.
Well-crafted and well-paced, Rhapsodize
embraces jazz wholeheartedly and with a diversification that grabs your attention and doesn't let go. Djangirov's compositional strength is to be admired and appreciated. A powerful yet graceful project from a tightly woven trio that, simply said, has its act together. Its broad range and instrumental prowess are in the realm of remarkable.
A Night In Tunisia; Airport; Anthemic; Willow Weep For Me; Burn; Black Hole Sun; Variations On A Bach Prelude;
In July; Rhapsodize; Devotion; Blackjack.