Ari (G.) Silver
Acoustic Bliss !! Contemporary Jazz
Cengiz Yaltkaya Trio. Folks, Cengiz wraps the piano keys around his fingers like butter (or budda for you jazz brethren). That's how how tight this CD is. These guys are brilliant, crisp, finely tuned... genuine musicians, and you can hear it in each note they blow your way! I LOVE ACOUSTIC Jazz, and had to have this CD after my friend told me about it. PERRRFECT music to set a kick-back mood.
Yaltkaya's New Album
His studio album “Almost Real”, just two years ago, was a fine collaboration with guitarist Joe Gaeta. Cengiz Yaltkaya now is back with “A.K. Steps Out”, a recording that transcends the ultimate jazz acoustic ensemble: piano, bass and drums. Besides, the CD is presented as an album by the “Cengiz Yaltkaya Trio”, with Yaltkaya on piano, Greg Swiller on bass and Bill Wysaske on drums. The result is a great jazz CD.
The album features 11 pieces, all written by Yaltkaya. Seven are originals and four have been previously released on other albums by Yaltkaya. The CD brings a bit of all the elements that come together to make good jazz music: the swing, the rhythm, the syncopation, the harmonies, and perhaps before anything else, the symbiosis between the performers and the magic pianistic touch of Yaltkaya.
The trio generates a new, fresh sound while maintaining a classic approach to the art. “UpDown Connection” for instance features a catchy, almost lyrical theme, one that is reminiscent of the great jazz trios or quartets of the 1950s-1960s.
“Something Happened to Mary” is a slow, slightly, but not excessively, bluesy, superb number. It is the kind you would like to listen to after midnight, to cool off and to relax. It is played with gentle, almost impressionistic chords on the piano, something that Yaltkaya usually does very well.
The title track, “A.K. Steps Out” starts with a simple 3-note, straight bass line repeated pattern that becomes very interesting when the more rhythmically challenging piano part comes to blend with it, overlapping and creating a great jazz piece. Lasting more than 10 minutes, it is a rather long one, the longest of the album. It includes a superb bass solo part that privileges the quiet beauty of the phrasing instead of the usual virtuosic show off.
The rhythmic experience continues with what is titled “Very Bassic”, as per Yaltkaya’s typical sense of humour! The piece opens with a somewhat exotic rhythm only to move into a good old 4/4 swing, complete with walking bass, after a few bars. The musicians return to the exotic part towards the end.
“Dustin’ Away” is my favourite, perhaps because of the piano theme. I really dig the way it combines with the bass and the drums. And then when Yaltkaya works the main theme into more intricate phrases he manages to preserve its beauty while exploring all the side roads. So does Swiller with the bass solo.
“The Day Before” is another slow number that lets the musicians display flair and savoir faire. Something in the harmonies and the phrases conjured up distant sounds from French composer Michel Legrand and others from legendary pianist Bill Evans. Well, to my ears at least.
“Squint This”, just like “A.K. Steps Out” is constructed with the smart backdrop of a rather square bass line on top of which the piano’s not-so-square right hand comes to do an absolutely wonderful job, catching 100 per cent of the listener’s attention, pumping the adrenaline.
“The Day Before”, “Squint This”, and “Visits” (track 10 here) were first recorded in 2003 on the album titled “Visits”, albeit with different arrangements. Back then Yaltakaya performed the three pieces with vibraphonist Eldad Tarmu. “Dustin’ Away” was first released on the “Almost Real” album in 2008, again with different arrangements; Yaltkaya was playing with guitarist Joe Gaeta.
The new album is produced by Cengiz Yaltkaya and Marc Dolan. The sound is very pure, very clean, with “no preservatives added” I would say - understand very little post processing - and for a good reason: It does not need any. The music is great enough as it is, and the musicians’ performance is truly first class.
The style of Yaltkaya is mainly characterised by finesse and elegance. The classical background of the musician may have something to do with these traits. Yaltkaya came and performed in Jordan in November 2006.
6 June 2010