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Eldar Djangirov: Three Stories

Dan Bilawsky By

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The "child prodigy" tag can be a blessing or a curse. Some people who are labeled in such a manner spend the rest of their lives trying to live up to a reputation that was forced upon them at an early age, while others simply mature and grow into themselves, ultimately capitalizing on the attention they received in their youth. Eldar Djangirov falls into the latter category. While Djangirov—in his early twenties when this album was recorded—can still be considered a talented young pianist, he already has more than a decade of professional experience under his belt, and his music belies his youth.

Three Stories is Djangirov's debut solo piano disc and, as the title implies, he takes a three-pronged approach in his selection of repertoire. Standards, classical works and original music—in the form of three musical "narratives" spread out across the album—are doled out in sparkling fashion, but Djangirov unites these disparate compositions with his own personalized third stream approach. A classical foundation and touch underscores everything he does, but the music isn't stiff or mechanical. This is certainly jazz piano, but it's the kind that belongs in a recital hall, not at a rent party

Djangirov gets to the heart of every song, but he uses various means to achieve this feat. He tries a whimsical and playful approach as an entry and exit strategy for "I Should Care," but the core of the piece is a tour-de-force romp that highlights his impressive chops. In other places, he weds romantic and impressionistic notions with great results ("Three Stories"), delivers twinkling musings on a familiar theme ("Darn That Dream"), dishes out music possessing a seductive beauty ("Russian Lullaby"), and goes on a joyous jaunt with his own take on a tune from a modern day rock icon (Dave Matthews' "So Damn Lucky").

While Djangirov covers everybody from Chick Corea and Thelonious Monk to Alexander Scriabin and Jimmy Van Heusen, George Gershwin seems to hold a special place on this album. Djangirov takes a fifteen-minute journey through "Rhapsody In Blue," putting his own unique stamp on the music along the way, also delivering a gorgeous version of Gershwin's "Embraceable You."

With Three Stories, Eldar Djangirov stakes his claim in the solo piano game, and unites three diverse styles of music in one winning package.

Track Listing: I Should Care; Prelude in C# Major; Darn That Dream; Windows; Etude Op. 2 No. 1; In Walked Bud; Three Stories; So Damn Lucky; Embraceable You; Russian Lullaby; Air on a G String; Impromptu; Rhapsody in Blue; Donna Lee.

Personnel: Eldar Djangirov, piano.

Title: Three Stories | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Sony Masterworks


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