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re-imagination by Eldar

Eldar has progressed from the status of "teenage phenomenon" to "twenty-something phenomenon," now that he has passed the age of twenty. After all, some revered jazz musicians made significant contributions in their early to mid twenties, such as Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan and Tony Williams, leaving listeners similarly in awe with their natural talent. So, perhaps it’s time to appreciate Eldar Djangirov's talent not so much because of the novelty of a Kyrgyzstan-born prodigy whose apparently limitless technical prowess won him an enthusiastic reception and a recording contract in the United States, to which his parents emigrated in 1998. Rather, we can enjoy what Eldar has to say artistically as he develops his own musical personality. re-imagination does show progress from Eldar’s earlier two Sony BMG albums, as he moved from mostly acoustic performances inspired by his jazz forebears to experimentation with electronics and turntabling as well.

That’s not to say that Eldar has abandoned his earlier interests. After all, "Place St. Henri" features an astounding note-perfect version of Oscar Peterson’s composition that contrasts stride rhythms with the master’s typically forceful, and unforgettable, swing. Eldar remembers some of the places and the people who assisted him in the attainment of his present recogntion. His "Prairie Village" isn’t an idealistic visualization of an Americana-type settlement, but instead a sonically dynamic tribute to the Kansas City suburb where his family settled and was welcomed--and where Eldar’s jazz talent flourished. That talent was encouraged by local musicians like drummer Todd Strait, who not only took the young Eldar under his wing for musical development, but who also has frequently accompanied the now-celebrated Eldar during concerts and on his recordings. "I Remember When," an affectionate thank-you for his parents, begins with a scratchy piano solo that is assumed to be Eldar the Younger playing at an early stage of his musical development. Soon, Eldar comes in full force with bassist Marco Panascia and Strait as the pianist/keyboardist enriches the composition with re-harmonization, more textured improvisation and a more driven aggressiveness.

Still, re-imagination provides some new elements, most notably the inclusion of turntablist and programming wizard DJ Logic, who changes the sensation of "Interlude #1 (Soul Glare)" from acoustic piano familiarity to a more adventurous exploration of sonic possibilities. On "Prairie Village," Eldar and DJ Logic work together to depict the emotions and sounds of the town, the dynamic bustling contrasted with a delicate acoustic depiction of the firmament of stars that Eldar absorbed visually a few years ago when he lived in the Midwest.

In addition to Eldar’s new directions and recollections, he chose some of the songs of re-imagination purely out of recognition for their everlasting beauty. One such tune is "Out of Nowhere" one of Eldar’s favorites, played gently with a delicate sense of touch that he felt appropriate to the theme of the album. "Tears," too, is performed with such sensitivity that it makes evident Eldar’s impressive versatility when he delivers rousing performances on tunes like "South Bixel."

"Dream Song," a solo performance of wondrous thought played rubato at Eldar’s leisure, no doubt acknowledges that dreams do come true. At least they did for Eldar, who not yet of age to sign contracts in some states will be touring the U.S., Europe and Russia to the acclaim of enthusiastic audiences who recognize his exceptional talent and admire his well-deserved success.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Eldar
  • CD Title: re-imagination
  • Genre: Various Jazz Styles
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Sony
  • Tracks: I Remember When, Interlude #1 (Soul Glare), Prairie Village, Out of Nowhere, Interlude #2 (Ordered Chaos), Back Home, Place St. Henri, Tears, South Bixel, Dream Song, Polaris
  • Musicians: Eldar (piano, keyboards), David Lai (Fender Rhodes), Mike Moreno (guitar), Marco Panascia, James Genus (electric bass), Carlos Henriquez (acoustic bass), Todd Strait, Terreon Gully, Ali Jackson (drums), DJ Logic (turntables, programming, sampled guitar solo, effects)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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