The word "prodigy" comes from the Latin prodigium,
which means "sign" or "portent." Jazz boasts its fair share of these exceptional individuals, including drummer Tony Williams
, pianist Keith Jarrett
, saxophonist Grace Kelly
and Trombone Shorty
. Folks on the Colorado music scene have been talking for years about the tremendously talented drummer Aleks Girshevich, who was born in 2001. Now with Aleks' debut CD, appropriately titled Tomorrow
, it's time for the rest of the jazz world to take note of this remarkable young man.
Like many jazz prodigies, Aleks grew up with music. His father, Vlad Girshevich, is a pianist and composer who began playing classical music at age four in his native Uzbekistan; when Vlad emigrated to America in the 1990s, his talent was quickly recognized by the musical community, including fellow pianist Herbie Hancock
. Aleks, who was born in Uzbekistan but emigrated soon after, started imitating complex rhythms on a drum pad at age four, and when he received his first drum set two years later, he immersed himself in advanced Cuban and Brazilian rhythms. Aleks started sitting in on his father's gigs, rapidly gaining in ability and experience, and at age ten he recorded his debut CD with his father and bassist Dave Arend, an innovative San Francisco bassist who moves easily between jazz, classical and electronica. Tomorrow
is an immensely pleasing combination of elegant swing, original craftsmanship, and engaging melodies provided by Vlad. "Strange Memories," a spritely tune with a funky undertone, showcases the group's talent: Vlad provides sparkling piano runs that possess an intricate filigree; Arend's chocolaty, bending bass notes add a pleasing depth; and Aleks supplies a steady boil underneath the others while revealing a nice instinct for accent work. Other standouts include "Fragility," a lovely, delicate tune highlighted by Aleks' subtle cymbals; the up-tempo yet faintly melancholy "Broken Promises," which includes moving solos by Vlad and Arend; and "Dithering," a vigorous improvisation that accentuates the group's imaginative energy and offers an intriguing direction for future projects.
In Todd Leopold's CNN.com article "The Making of a Prodigy," Professor Ellen Winner states: "You can say that prodigies are our best hope. They are our future. They are precious resources." Like all resources, such budding talent needs to be nurtured and understood, and happily Aleks Girshevich is surrounded by a supportive musical family. Judging from his excellent playing on Tomorrow
, Aleks has a firm foundation to grow upon, and a shining future worth watching.