Burak Bedikyan takes charge of the finest quartet recording for 2013, Circle of Life.
Brent Black / www.bop-N-jazz.com
Burak Bedikyan is as artistically gifted and as technically proficient as any pianist on the planet. This classically trained pianist transitioned to jazz roughly seventeen years ago and his exponential growth as a performer, composer and arranger is chronicled with one of the finest releases for 2013 in Circle of Life. Preconceived notions would have this Turkish pianist heading to a slightly more organic world beat vibe but preconceived notions much like running out of coffee can be the death of most critics. An all star line up features Chris Potter, Peter Washington, and Bill Stewart rounding out a rhythm section that welcomes you to a deceptively subtle riff on old school bebop amped up with a swing that is uniquely Bedikyan's.
In a format such as this taking the easy way out would have this formidable 4tet banging out a set of Bill Evans, Monk, and perhaps the odd Chick Corea tune and calling it a day. Instead we find the composer Bedikyan as a cultural by product of his own experience channeling his own creative muse with nods to Monk, Tommy Flannagan and the slain Turkish/Armenian writer Hrant Dink, a man that Bedikyan acknowledges as playing a key role in his own cultural awareness. The only cover to be found is the Lennon / McCartney classic "Here, There and Everywhere" and the minor odd metered riff on the Beatles classic is nothing short of stunning. Bedikyan posses the unique ability to take this iconic work and establish the necessary connection to make it his if only for a brief moment in time. "TF" is an old school smoker that would make the late Tommy Flannagan more than proud. The deft touch and dazzling technique of Bedikyan establishs a truly unique harmonic voice for piano in an other wise mundane if not tightly clustered pack of sometimes soulless virtuoso talent that has forgotten what pushing the creative envelope is all about. The cultural portrait of Bedikyan is painted with "Melancholia" which is an another exquisite odd metered composition that embraces his Turkish / Armenian roots. This particular composition is a prime example that an artist need not pitch a tent while working in odd meter simply to make a point.
Peter Washington is one of the finest if not most underrated lyrical bassists working today and combined with the finesse and impeccable swing of Bill Stewart there is a legitimate argument to be made that this is one of the finest rhythm sections assembled. Chris Potter is the perfect lyrical counterpoint to Bedikyan as this melodic exploration unfolds with an almost perfect ebb and flow. Considering these tunes were recorded with no prior rehearsal the end result is nothing short of amazing. Burak Bedikyan is a name to remember and an artist whose musical stock is an arrow pointing straight up!
Tracks: First Steps; Here, There And Everywhere; Do You Still Have Hope; For Old Times Sake; Prayer For Forgiveness Part 1 Delusion; Prayer For Forgiveness Part 2 Serenity; Joy Of Giving; TF; Intro; Melancholia; Circle Of Life; 19.01.2007.
Personnel: Burak Bedikyan: Piano; Chris Potter:Tenor Saxophone; Peter Washington: Bass; Bill Stewart: Drums.
Look for this release on my Best of 2013 list to be updated soon!