By: Trevor Pour
As we welcomed in the New Year on the first of January, we also saw the passing of the mere 21st birthday of the Kyrgyzstani piano jazz wunderkind Eldar Djangirov. With his 2007 release Re-Imagination (Sony BMG), Eldar once again impressed fans and critics alike, eventually earning a Grammy nomination. Re-imagination is a contemporary and noticeably polished album. Not at all reminiscent of his live performances, it has a refined studio feel, but in a good way. In fact, this is a great example of how a studio album can still capture the intricacies of an artist without sounding overproduced.
Nine different sidemen appear including the ubiquitous DJ Logic, whose trademark scratches add to the youthful feel of Re-Imagination. Nine of the eleven tracks are composed by Eldar, with the two exceptions being Oscar Peterson’s "Place St. Henri" and Johnny Green’s "Out of Nowhere."
Fireworks are Eldar’s forte. The opening track, "I Remember When," explodes with a burst of keystrokes that highlight Eldar’s agility and ability as a composer. Yet some of the later tracks, especially the strong, compelling "Back Home," are the real treasures of Re-Imagination. "Prairie Village" is arguably the best original composition here, replete with acoustic and electric elements in a sweet blend of smooth flow and cacophonic dissonance. Eldar does Peterson proud on "Place St. Henri," another disc highlight. A pair of brief interludes allows Eldar to experiment a bit with electronic and synthesized textures between longer compositions. Finally, Eldar sprinkles some balladry amongst his pyrotechnics with "Tears" and "Dream Song" exploring the quieter side of jazz.
Re-Imagination cements Eldars's credibility as a composer as well as a player; This album is a true representation of his creativity and artistry. But perhaps what provides the most joy is that Eldar’s mere presence and sense of vocation, which ensures a new generation's exposure to fresh jazz, this writer included. This album and this artist give one hope that no matter your age or your era, there will always be groundbreaking jazz to hear, appreciate and understand.
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