An expatriate from the former USSR, Eugene Maslov's second album for Mack Avenue Records and 3rd overall (the first two were for the now defunct Brownstone label) features four of his originals and sundry other tunes making up an assortment of nine tunes. He is joined by two first rank hard bop and modern jazz players on today's scene, Bill Evans' former bassist, Eddie Gomez, and drummer Omar Hakim whose resumé lists stints with George Benson, David Bowie and Miles Davis among others.
This is a rather intense session recalling pianists of like mind as Keith Jarrett and Eric Reed. There's a feeling of itchiness as each tune is taken head on with little room given to subtlety and indirection. The Man I Love is a duet for piano and drums on an up tempo as Omar Hakim's drums chatter and drive underneath Maslov's insistent piano treatment of this Gershwin Brothers classic. Another mile a minute cut is Miles Davis "Milestones" again with Hakim using high hats and other cymbals to emphasize the pianist's efforts. The onset of this tune creates anticipation for some very creative improvisation, but inexplicably stops short of fulfilling that promise. Gomez is pretty much drowned out by the frolicsome Maslov and Hakim except when he gets a chance to solo and even then is usually given only a few bars as with "Here Comes Juliette". On the usually peacefully played "Dindi" matters are made complex and interesting with Maslov trying to slow things down while Hakim is pounding away a mile a minute. But here there is some fine Gomez bass for a couple of bars or so. That Maslov is an incredible technician, there's no doubt. But he and we could have benefitted from a bit more finesse at this session.
But all is not lost. A gentler, more introspective Eugene Maslov emerges on his latest effort. Using three different drummers, the atmosphere is not as tense as on the previous disk where Hakim never let anyone catch their breath, neither performer nor audience. While the heat is turned down a bit, Maslov continues to take no captives. While easing up on his "Through Russian Eyes" he returns to the feeling of urgency on Herbie Hancock's "Chan's Song (Never Said)". Eddie Gomez is again on bass and again tends to get submerged beneath all the comings and goings. But there are memorable moments. Some come with "The Face of Love" and "Come Back to Me Love" where Shirley Horn takes on vocal duties. No one is going to drown her out and live to tell about it. Both these lovely ballads were composed by Gretchen Carhartt, who happens to own the record company. But she needs no special favors as she holds her own as a writer. Other fine moments come when Toots Thielemanns shows up, especially on his well-known Bluesette which he has played hundreds of times, but which always sounds good. There's less of a waltz pace to this version than one usually hears.
Of the two CDs, the second is preferable and is recommended.
Track Listing: Kolobok; Here Comes Juliette; Out of This World; When I Need to Smile; Living in the Past; The Man I Love; Dindi; Milestones; Sweet Lana Chan's Song (Never Said); More Love; Them There Eyes; The Face of Love; Seven Steps to Heaven; Peacocks; Bluesette; Groove Merchant; Through Russian Eyes; Come Back to Me Love
Personnel: Eugene Maslov - Piano; Eddie Gomez - Bass; Omar Hakim - Drums Eugene Maslov - Piano/Synthesizer; Eddie Gomez, Chuck Deardorf - Bass; Willie Jones, George Schuller, Steve Williams - Drums; Shirley Horn-Vocals; Toots Thielemans - Harmonica
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.