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Eldar: Eldar

Taking a break from research at the Brubeck Institute in the summer of 2003, I sat in on a musicians’ clinic Roy Hargrove was conducting for the institute’s Summer Jazz Colony set up in honor of Paul Desmond. Desmond was fond of saying that jazz, like writing, can be learned but not taught. Hargrove seemed to agree; he taught by doing, so he whipped up a jam session. Eldar Djangirov, then 16, was the pianist. Hargrove seemed surprised by the quality of comping coming from the boy’s hands. When Djangirov soloed, Hargrove’s jaw dropped.

This young man from Kyrgystan has been publicized widely, as child prodigies usually are. Sony gives him one-name billing, like a rock star. Is it all too much, too soon for someone who is, after all, only 18?

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