Eugene Maslov

When I Need to Smile

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    5
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Maslov is a gifted pianist that has a keen melodic sense and can express it in contemporary terms. Produced by Stix Hooper of the Crusaders and helped by bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Omar Hakim, the recording consciously drifts in and out of swing and light funk modes. Four of the nine selections were written by Maslov. Of the originals, "Here Comes Juliette" is superior, a definitive melodic statement that swings nicely. Paying homage to Chick Corea's hyper-melodicism on "Living in the Past," the pianist and bassist work an attractive unison line that showcases their skills and influences. They mix up funk and swing for "The Man I Love" and completely change up "Dindi" and "Out of This World," a light funk that suggests a much more contemporary Bob James-ish style. Pieces like "Kolobok" and "Sweet Lana" are pleasant enough but not all that interesting rhythmically, and the title track, a nice ballad, would have benefited from Hakim's brushes. The most curious selection, a take on "Milestones," rambles for 2 1/2 minutes and then fades out. Maslov is a decent pianist and Gomez & Hakim are great, but they can't lift this session to the compelling work level that the pianist would record in ensuing years.

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