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Tigran: Shadow Theater (Verve)

Tigran

Tigran

Shadow Theater

(Verve)

The California-based Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan is arguably the most interesting musician to have arrived on the world jazz scene this century. If he's also the most enigmatic, then that only increases this listener's nosiness when a new release appears. Following the superbly lyrical, largely solo A Fable, this album finds him working with a band but, being Tigran, it's no ordinary band. A handy way to describe it might be an Eastern European take on EST. As well as incorporating Armenian folk music and a judiciously used muscularity that reminds us that Tigran had a childhood fascination for heavy metal, however, it also takes in devotional music, with Areni Agbabian's remarkable voice joining Tigran's own very individual singing. By turns playful, almost childlike, gorgeously solemn, immensely moving, and motoring like Chick Corea's Return To Forever with attention deficit disorder, even after half a dozen plays Shadow Theater remains unpredictable. But if you just want proof of Tigran's piano talent, skip to track 10 and marvel.

Rob Adams

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