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Gochiashvili; Beka: Beka Gochiashvili

If ever there was proof that the old adage "Start them young" rings true, then it is this self titled album from 16 year old Beka Gochiashvili from Tbilisi, Georgia, who started to learn his chosen instrument of piano at the tender age of two. To say that this precocious jazz talent is astounding, would be like saying that sitting in your underwear in a snow drift might cause you to catch a chill, as one quick listen to the opening bars of "Un Gran Abrazo" will leave you in no doubt to the truth of the statement. Neither can you suggest that this young is man phased to be surrounded by tried and tested talent, with the likes of Stanley Clarke, John Patitucci, Gil Goldstein, Victor Bailey and Wallace Roney all showing up to aid the pianist. And I do mean aid, as in a style that doesn't need to be flashy, Beka simply grabs the spotlight through the sheer dexterity and fluidity of his playing, making you sit up and listen to his contributions even during tracks such as "Song To Niniko", where brass strides forward in a languid, yet assured manner.

However when you add to the above achievements that seven of the twelve tracks on this album are Beka originals, then things move from the sublime to the ridiculous. It becomes no exaggeration to state that this young man is one of the true jazz talents of his generation, something that the aforementioned "Un Gran Abrazo" and "For Keith" leave you in no doubt of as they introduce the album. Both songs are tributes to heroes (I would say of Beka's youth, but...), Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea, with the former gaining its title from an email Corea once sent the Georgian, signing it off with "Bye Beka, Un Gran Abrazo", which means "A Big Hug". Something the song gives you with style and grace. Unlike most musicians his age, Beka shines brightest with his ability to play for the song. This is not someone desperately shouting "look at me, look at me". Instead you are drawn to his playing through the sheer confidence of the non-forceful nature he provides. Neither is this an album happy to find one strength and sit on it, over staying its welcome, instead skilfully sliding from the mournful vocal and smooth brush work of "Come Everybody", to the non-stop clash of ride cymbal, double bass and of course caressing piano of "L's Bop". "Chicknstan" offers a darker, pulsating rhythmic intent, before "Passionately In Love" sits on a gloriously relaxed groove. In fact choosing highlights to talk about is easy, less so is deciding which to leave out to avoid the temptation to turn this review into a short-story! Everywhere you turn virtuoso musicianship serves up a new reason to keep coming back for more and lend this album your full attention.

Believe the hype, Beka Gochiashvili, the musician and the album, is as good as traditional jazz with an eye for the here and now gets. Don't be late to his party.

Track Listing
1.Un Gran Abrazo
2.For Keith
3.New York
4.Song to Niniko
6.Herio Bichebo
8.Passionately in Love
9.Made of Tenderness
10.L's Bop
11.When Almonds Blossomed
12.Exit to the West

Added: November 24th 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Beka Online
Hits: 2070
Language: english

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