Monday, November 10, 2008

Eldar (piano) vs. Eldar (beeps and boops)

There are two Eldars and I know which one I don't like.

Hint: It's the newer one.

Let's start with a confession. I'm an old fart. I don't try to hide it. I like acoustic jazz. I like old jazz. Sometimes I like electric jazz, too, but I don't like them together and I can't think of a single instance where mixing them up on one CD worked.

Hence Eldar.

Now, I don't mind the kid's odd name or the fact that he looks like he's 12 years old. There are plenty of jazz guys with odder names and weirder faces. (What's with those cheeks, Dizzy?)

And I really liked his first CD from 2005, the one called just "Eldar." That super-duper-fast version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" blows me away every time. So does "Maiden Voyage" and "Moanin'" and "Watermelon Island." Although, come to think of it, all of those are covers of old jazz standards. The originals and the slow tunes -- not so much. But I do generally like the trio format and the solo piano tunes.

Then there's last year's CD, "Re-Imagination."

Fusion has its place. I like Return to Forever. But one thing I never heard Chick Corea do was mix his acoustic and electric stuff all on one CD. But that's what Eldar does on "Re-Imagination."

Let's start with the worst stuff. On this CD, there two short, weird electronic "pieces" with beeps and boops and buzzes. I don't get it. Then there are pieces that sound sorta-kinda like a cross between pop and jazz with acoustic piano and electric noise and some synthesizer thing in the background. One of these pieces is 8 minutes long. It leaves me cold.

And then, smack in the middle of the CD, there's this perfect track. It's a joyful, old-time piano romp on "Place St. Henri" by Oscar Peterson. If the kid left it at that, I'd be a happy old fart.

But then Eldar wanders off into some not-very-inspiring slow dreamy thing, followed by some more electronic stuff.

Look, I like Eldar. I admire his experimental streak. I love his chops. But I don't love "Re-Imagination." I hope he finds his own voice sometime soon, and I hope it doesn't include any beeps or boops.

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