Misha Tsiganov - The Artistry Of The Standard
(Criss Cross 1367. CD review by Eric Ford)
Misha Tsiganov is a Russian-born pianist resident in NYC since 1993, after two years of study at Berklee College of Music in Boston. During his two decades in New York, he's been in and recorded with bands led by Joe Chambers and Chico Freeman, recorded copiously as a sideman alongside a host of great players including the Brecker Brothers, Gil Goldstein, Jonathan Kreisberg, Dave Valentin and Logan Richardson, and recorded under his own name with top drummers Gene Jackson and Antonio Sanchez.
As can be guessed from all those associations, he's pretty special himself; I'm ashamed to admit I hadn't come across him before.
In addition to his outstanding and hard-swinging playing, Tsiganov demonstrates a fertile arranging imagination on a bunch of well-known - if not necessarily much-played - tunes. As well as much harmonic wizardry there's a dizzying procession of time signatures within most of the arrangements and occasional metric modulations, superbly-negotiated and made to flow by fellow Russians in New York Boris Kozlov (bass) and Alex Sipiagin (trumpet) - both of whom are familiar as stalwarts of the Mingus Big Band and Michael Brecker's Quindectet - plus drummer Donald Edwards and tenor sax maestro Seamus Blake. It's a juicy ensemble, eating up the challenges posed by the material as if it were all rather more straightforward than it is.
The tune choice is interesting - Fall / Get Out Of Town / The Song Is You / Ah-Leu-Cha / This Is For Albert / Four On Six / Falling In Love With Love / Mr. Day / Make Sure You're Sure. All of them contain surprises; there is much to confound and delight the ears and mind. Leave expectations of each tune behind...
With such fresh approaches to familiar music, this is a really outstanding album by a superb band demonstrating enviable technique, creativity and finesse.