Eldar [D&D]

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Veteran jazz critics and collectors are often suspicious of well-hyped teenaged jazz musicians, who more often than not disappear completely from the radar after just a CD or two. But Eldar Djangirov, who was only 14 when this debut recording was made (he had already appeared as a guest on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz two years earlier), is a pianist with incredible chops and lots of promise to boot. Djangirov distills the influence of many jazz legends into his playing, though it is a bit early in his career to expect him to already have developed a distinctive style of his own. He is confident enough to give drummer Todd Strait a solo early in the opening track, a potent interpretation of Tadd Dameron's "Lady Bird," where bassist Gerald Spaits also shines. His refreshing take of "Footprints" is harmonically rich and intensely swinging, while his approach to Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way" is anything but workmanlike. He shows surprising maturity with his intricate solo arrangement of McPartland's lush, bittersweet ballad "Afterglow" (better known under its later title of "In the Days of Our Love"). Monk's "Well, You Needn't" is given a seesaw introduction before the pianist revs up his engines to devour this jazz standard whole. The young man's compositions also show promise. The poignant "Meetings and Partings" is dedicated to the late Charles McWhorter, a jazz patron who made it possible for the then-nine-year-old musician to study at Interlochen's musical summer camp and later helped his family to settle in Kansas City. The funky "Rhododendron" showcases yet another dimension of his wide-ranging interest in many styles of jazz. If he continues to build upon this impressive debut, Eldar Djangirov obviously has the potential to become an important contributor to jazz for decades to come.

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