Eldar_reimagination_span3
July/August 2007

Eldar
re-imagination
Sony BMG Masterworks

That Eldar has mind-boggling chops has been apparent since he was 10 and still lived in his native Kyrgyztan. He is now 20 and lives in the United States. He may be as fast as anyone who has ever played jazz piano. But his new album is very difficult to listen to.

For his third recording on Sony BMG, Eldar wants to be more “forward-looking,” and to focus on his own compositions. “Forward looking” in jazz these days is code for ingredients like electric bass (James Genus or Marco Panascia), guitar (Mike Moreno), Fender Rhodes (David Lai), “turntables, programming, effects” (DJ Logic) and keyboard programming and synthesizers (Eldar himself). While these added flavors (usually sweet) tend to be predictable and generic, they remain on the margins of this music, and are not the problem.

The problem is that pieces like “South Bixel” (with ham-fisted drummer Terreon Gully), “Prairie Village” and “Polaris” are exhausting onslaughts, more like athletic spectacles than musical experiences. At this point in his career as a composer, Eldar writes too many songs that sound like engines revving.

His talent is special. Not only is everyone who cares about jazz keeping an eye on Eldar, everyone is pulling for him.

Originally published in July/August 2007
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