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Music Review: Misha Tsiganov – ‘The Artistry of the Standard’

Once again demonstrating the universal appeal of jazz, Russian-born pianist Misha Tsiganov, who has long been  making a name for himself playing in projects with the likes of Michael and Randy Brecker, Hendrik Meurkens, Clark Terry, and Wynton Marsalis, leads a dynamic quintet in a new album he calls The Artistry of the Standard. His standards come in two delicious flavors. There are three tunes from the Great American Songbook. There are five compositions of what we would call jazz classics—tunes written by a great jazz artist, and indeed often having been given what many would think of as definitive…

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Summary : Tsiganov and team take a new look at some standard tunes.

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Once again demonstrating the universal appeal of jazz, Russian-born pianist Misha Tsiganov, who has long been  making a name for himself playing in projects with the likes of Michael and Randy Brecker, Hendrik Meurkens, Clark Terry, and Wynton Marsalis, leads a dynamic quintet in a new album he calls The Artistry of the Standard. His standards come in two delicious flavors. There are three tunes from the Great American Songbook. There are five compositions of what we would call jazz classics—tunes written by a great jazz artist, and indeed often having been given what many would think of as definitive interpretations. Oh, and the cherry on top, one pop tune, perhaps destined to become a standard, sneaks in as well.

In any case, this is an album filled with familiar music and, as Tsiganov acknowledges, it is not enough to repeat what has been done before. The artistry of the standard is in making these tunes sing for today. As he explains in the liner notes, an album of all standards “wouldn’t work if we just played them without interesting, unusual arrangements that sound like now.” But further, he goes on, “the most important thing for me is making sure that all the songs are conceptually on the same level.”  If he was worried, he needn’t have been. He and his hand-picked team have taken each one of these classics and found something new and lively in it.

Joining Tsiganov are Alex Sipiagin on trumpet and flugelhorn, Seamus Blake on tenor sax, Donald Edwards on drums and Boris Kozlov on bass.MIsha 2

“Fall,” the first of two Wayne Shorter pieces, opens the album and moves in a new rhythmic direction from the Miles Davis version on Nefertiti. The other Shorter piece is “This is For Albert.” It gets a Latin treatment, with some sweet solo work from Tsiganov and Sipiagin. They add some hardcore flavor with  a tight take on Coltrane’s “Mr. Day.” Charlie Parker’s “Ah-Leu-Cha” and Wes Montgomery’s “Four On Six” have that hard bop pace.

They take a nine-minute excursion through Cole Porter’s “Get Out of Town,” which features Blake’s sax work. Rodgers and Hart’s “Falling In Love With Love” gets some fine solo work from everyone. Jerome Kern’s “The Song Is You” is a lovely trio piece for Tsiganov, Edwards and Kozlov. The set closes with Stevie Wonder’s “Make Sure You’re Sure.”

The Artistry of the Standard is an impressive album, and just think about all the standards out there waiting to be touched with the Tsiganov artistry.

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