So, um, what did I think of Eldar's opening set?
How can I put this lightly...
The old folks behind me seemed to enjoy it a lot :)
I on the other hand had a bit more difficulty. As a preface for what is to come, I was enamored by Eldar last time I saw him. I was sixteen going on seventeen. Naive, timid, and scared was I, though with budding jazz chops. He just played so fast and in 7 and I just thought, "Wow he's only 19! This is so nuts." I of course sheepishly got an autograph afterward and awkwardly commented on his stuff in 7.
The first instinct that a lot of my friends and I have about Eldar is that his virtuosity is just a novelty. It's impressive, a good bit of showmanship, and the audience usually responds as such (tonight was no exception). But even as a stingy, artsy music snob, I usually react well to good showmanship. Jazz has been filled with expert showmen like Oscar Peterson, Buddy Rich, Dizzy Gillespie, and Papa Jo Jones (please comment with anyone I left out), dating all the way back to Louis Armstrong. The inimitable Roots (they're a jazz band in my book) continue this tradition every night on Jimmy Fallon's show. But tonight, I didn't get any feeling of showmanship from Eldar. His virtuosity is eerily unselfconscious. I feel that what he played tonight is his own honest music. Yet after all of his hyperactivity and machine gun phrasing, I was left cold, dozing off in the heat of battle.
As I walked back tonight, I thought about the reason for this disconnect. I'm not usually the one coming out of a concert thinking I just didn't get it. This was a really weird feeling. After a good ponder, I feel Eldar's music is something like jazz with Asperger's (ok, I did think of jaszperger's, but that seems like unfair cheap shot). The virtuosity and ease of his playing is savant-like, seemingly beyond what any other human can do. However, the music lacks the nuance that makes emotional expression and recognition possible. It all comes off as a rote exercise in musical recall.
Eldar's so-cerebral-it's-scary music is an interesting foil for Vijay and his trio. Iyer is potentially the sharpest guy in the jazz world, or at least the most over-educated (BA in physics and math from Yale, MS/PhD from Cal Berkeley. Really says a lot coming from me huh. Ba dum crash.) Annnnnnyway...
|So what's going through Mr. Iyer's big brain? Does it really matter?|
|The big guy with the little drum set|