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March 2003

Eugene Maslov
The Fuse Is Lit
Mack Avenue Records

Russian emigre Eugene Maslov brought his classical background, prodigious technique and love for jazz with him when he landed in Los Angeles in 1989. He tried the Apple for a while, played Carnegie Hall and assorted jam sessions, but he wasn't in a New York state of mind and moved to Philadelphia in 2000.

When his manager, former Jazz Crusader Stix Hooper, became an exec with Mack Avenue Records, Maslov emigrated from Brownstone Records to Mack Ave. This is his third album for the label. Enough bio. Now for an even shorter review: Maslov is a monster on piano.

When he lets out all his Russian intensity, as he does on his original, "The Witch," Maslov can be all-consuming, diabolical, sweeping all over the keyboard like a Russian blizzard. No minimalist, he. Alternating between the styles of his two favorites, Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans, Maslov consumes the keyboard on "The Masquerade Is Over," "To My Teacher/To My Friend," "Guru" and "Entente." On the last two, guests Hubert Laws, flute, and Pete Christlieb, tenor (heard on about half of the tracks), hold their own with Maslov. Drummer Joe La Barbera shows up on three cuts.

To balance the ferocity of his attack, Maslov turns poetic on "Django" and particularly on the solo track "One for My Baby," which is beautifully reharmonized. Another well-written original, "Dream of Dreams," begins romantically, but after Laws' gentle solos, Maslov tends to unleash the demon. With that much technique, how can one hold back?

Originally published in March 2003
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