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Let It Come To You by Taylor Eigsti

So when does a prodigy cross over to fulfill youthful promise and contribute to the progress of an art form? At what point did the precocious, classically trained Herbie Hancock move beyond the wonder at his early talent to his unique contributions to the language of jazz? What marked Clifford Brown’s transformation from a wunderkind in Delaware whose reputation preceded him in Philadelphia to his legendary status at an early professional age? Taylor Eigsti was considered a prodigy for much of his childhood, and even though respected veterans like Dave Brubeck and David Benoit have used the term as well, one suspects that Eigsti may have tired of the description. Fortunately, he may not have to hear the term any longer. At the age of 24, Eigsti already has signed with a major label, received two Grammy nominations, earned a #7 ranking on the National Jazz Radio Airplay Charts, played twice on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz and appeared on the covers of Jazziz and Keyboard magazines. More importantly, his natural facility with technique has matured into a flowing style that reflects Eigsti’s personal interests.

As on his popular first Concord album, Lucky to Be Me, Eigsti suggests a variety of influences and performs with some of the same musicians of approximately his own age, such as guitarist Julian Lage and saxophonist Ben Wendel. Lucky to Be Me served as an effective introduction to Eigsti’s talent, and its title accomplishes several meanings, intentional or not. Eigsti’s writing in the liners for both albums hints at the issues with which he has wrestled since the passing of his sister and father from cancer issues that even more mature family members twice his age struggle to resolve. But he determined in the liner notes of both albums that he indeed is lucky to have achieved early success and to have realized some of his dreams, such as meeting his hero Joe Montana or playing for Bill Clinton when he was President.

The difference between Lucky to Be Me and Let It Come to You is that on the second CD Eigsti put into music his feelings about reconciliation with fate as he attempts to understand it. The result is Eigsti’s Fallback Plan Suite, whose concept he explains in detail, but which mostly expresses his trust in fate rather than contesting it. That’s a weighty subject about which many textbooks have been written. Eigsti divides his thoughts into three movements: "Less Free Will," "Not Lost Yet" and "Brick Steps." Adding reeds to all three parts of the suite, Eigsti starts the suite with the ever-growing volume of the churning minor-key "Less Free Will" as the unison melody and then improvisations continue over the repeated chords. But Part II, "Not Lost Yet," a song of relaxation, presents a jaunty, backbeat-driven theme on Fender Rhodes with flute responses, similar to Eigsti’s radio-friendly work on Lucky to Be Me, such as "Woke Up This Morning" (theme from The Sopranos). Part III, "The Bricks," concludes Eigsti’s suite with energetic forcefulness, expressed mostly by Wendel on tenor sax over the rhythm section’s rousing movement, driven especially effectively by drummer Eric Harland’s push.

Again, Eigsti has recorded with some established jazz musicians quite a feat for someone his age, especially on his first CD, on which the likes of Christian McBride, Billy Kilson, Eric Marienthal and Lewis Nash appeared. On Let It Come to You, Joshua Redman assists Eigsti in a tribute to Michael Brecker when the group plays Pat Metheny’s blues, "Timeline," with its stuttering bridge and swinging, snapping theme which the group plays to full advantage. With the successive choruses, the group seems to rejoice in the opportunity for performing together as the intensity grows, and they trade fours to augment the irresistibility to listeners. Another of Eigsti’s guests on Let It Come to You, Colombian harp player Edmar Castaneda, alters the character of the album, as he did on Janis Siegel’s A Thousand Beautiful Things. "Fever" moves away from its traditional sultriness as we know the Peggy Lee version. Instead, the duo performance becomes percussive as Eigsti and Castaneda build the Latin rhythms into a transformation marked by aggressive tripleted accents, cascading improvisation and opposing but complementary meters as time stretches and contracts. Once again, Eigsti and Lage prove their like-mindedness throughout the album. On the sensitively performed Jobim tune, "Portrait in Black and White," they collaborate to establish a haunting rubato interpretation that Lage plays with Brazilian flavor on acoustic guitar as Eigsti develops a classical accompaniment.

Without the extended composition of Eigsti’s Fallback Plan Suite, Let It Come to You is similar to Lucky to Be Me due to its mixture of his original compositions with personally interpreted popular songs and jazz standards. "Caravan," set up by Lage’s distorted, echoing, reverberating introduction, allows for extended cadenzas between choruses as well as Lage’s staccato plucking and Eigsti’s floating sustained chords as they alternate between swing and, ironically, clavé. Indeed, Eigsti is lucky to be he. Despite the bouts with now-reportedly-resolved self-doubt and despair, his inventiveness and command of the keyboard have been widely recognized, and his wheel of fortune now is on the upswing.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Taylor Eigsti
  • CD Title: Let It Come To You
  • Genre: Various Jazz Styles
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Concord
  • Tracks: I Love You, Timeline, Not Ready Yet, Caravan, Portrait In Black And White, Deluge, Fever Pitch, Let It Come To You, Fall Back Suite: Less Free Will, Not Lost Yet, Brick Steps
  • Rating: Four Stars
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