By: Trevor Pour
Virtue. Virtuoso. Virtuosity. Derived from the Latin virtus and suggestive of skill or excellence, Eldar Djangirov treads a fine line between bravado and candor with the title of his latest release. The fifth formal album and third studio effort since his self-titled debut on Sony, Virtue (released August 25 on Sony) is yet another dazzling recording from the prodigious young composer and pianist. While he displays post-bop tendencies not only evocative of but comparative to Mehldau or Hancock, Eldar long ago found his own voice - one of both tempered confidence and youthful exuberance. His stylistic propensity often found him amidst a flurry of sound, adeptly and playfully weaving threads of jazz history with his own imaginative design.
As expected, Eldar wastes no time in displaying his talent on Virtue. The aptly titled "Exposition" dives directly into a maelstrom of familiar fireworks, forgoing any warm-up for either the performer or the listener. "Blues Sketch In Clave," one of the strongest compositions on the album, is equally full-bodied and features fantastic interplay amongst all band members. But not all Virtue's tracks are simply built to electrify. The subtle "Insensitive" focuses almost solely on the piano, as it makes an impassioned plea for your undivided attention. Or take the unencumbered sound of "Daily Living," a light and joyful piece which is strongly reminiscent of the mood on Eldar's Re-Imagination.
Eldar has a gift, no question. Dave Brubeck once affirmed, "He's a genius beyond most young people I've heard." But if one is to judge an artist not only on their abilities but also on their evolution and development, Virtue falls just short of making the grade. Eldar's musical voice has been growing ever louder with each release, but seems to have hit a plateau. So, while this album delivers in ways that many artists could only dream, it simply doesn't stand up to his previous, admittedly illustrious work.
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