Sunday, March 22, 2020

Album Review: Eldar Djangirov- Rhapsodize

If speed and aggressiveness were the form’s most prized attributes, Eldar Djangirov would be the top pianist in jazz.  When he was a child prodigy living in the Kansas City area, Djangirov was defined by his age.  He’s now associated with his faster-and-louder ethos.

Djangirov acts as the jazz equivalent of a speed-rapper on his frenetic new album Rhapsodize.  Abetted by bassist Raviv Markovitz and drummer Jimmy Macbride, Djangirov seems to be attempting to set a land speed record on “A Night in Tunisia”.  “Variations on a Bach Prelude” is among the additional tracks showcasing his maximalist tendencies.

Rhapsodize is spectacularly impressive as a purely athletic endeavor.  Yet several interesting things occur amid the dizzying blur of notes.  Djangirov’s shifts between acoustic and electric keyboards provide intriguing textural contrasts. 

A reading of the Soundgarden song isn’t as ambitious as Brad Mehldau’s epic 22-minute version from 2008, but Djangirov’s take on “Black Hole Sun” provides an accessible point of entry for headbangers.  Fans of the bombastic prog-rock institution Emerson, Lake & Palmer will be right at home with “Anthemic”.  And “Devotion” successfully merges mainstream jazz with the fresh sounds of innovative groups like GoGo Penguin.

Nuance and restraint may be in short supply on Rhapsodize, but Djangirov’s over-the-top heroics may be precisely what the world needs in this difficult moment.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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