Eldar Djangirov : Three Stories

On Three Stories, his first solo piano release for Sony, Eldar Djangirov offers a stunning triptych of his abilities: ethereal classics (Bach, Scriabin), clever re-imaginations (Gershwin, Cahn, Van Heusen, Chick Corea, Monk, Charlie Parker, Dave Matthews) and heady originals.

Like Keith Jarrett, Eldar’s classical training has informed his jazz chops, and vice versa. Other than a tempo more postbop than Baroque, he refrains from jazzifying his articulate, rippling Bach “Prelude in C# Major,” while he reconsiders “Air on a G String” as a restless drift, alternating dark quandaries and delicate swirls. Scriabin’s “Etude Op.2 No. 1” opens with a tinkling cluster reminiscent of Marilyn Crispell before settling into a more robust interpretation that merges romanticism and subtle invention.

Nothing seems “standard” among the covers, including a delightfully jagged “I Should Care”; a harplike abstraction of “Darn That Dream”; a lovely, hesitating distillation of “Embraceable You”; a gently songful version of Corea’s “Windows” that occasionally seems to reprise Bach; and a lyrical, blues-stained run at Matthews’ “So Damn Lucky.” Bebop seems most accommodating of Eldar’s fertile imagination: Witness the sonata-meets-stride deconstruction of “In Walked Bud” in 5/4 and the disc-closing helter-skelter of “Donna Lee.” Of the original compositions, the three-part (Three Stories, get it?) title track is abstract and shifty yet playful. “Russian Lullaby” is a majestic respite, “Impromptu” a Chopinesque journey.

At 15 minutes, “Rhapsody in Blue” is a grand, virtuosic gesture, at turns orchestral, jubilant, turbulent, bluesy, even maniacal. Eldar rolls his broad musical vocabulary into one logical package, a microcosm of the entirety of Three Stories. At 24, he clearly has many more stories to tell.