12 Songs, 57 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Pianist Tigran Hamasyan won the Thelonious Monk competition in 2006, as well as the respect of such boundary-breaking jazzmen as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Brad Mehldau. Now the Armenian-born artist—who moved to L.A. with his family at age 16—returns with his fifth album. While 2011’s well-received A Fable alternated between solo piano songs and textured modern pieces, this one deftly mixes tangled beats, classical music romanticism, Eastern European folk, taunt boundary-free arrangements, and a rigorous set of piano chops. Another interesting wrinkle are the haunting chorale vocals from him and female singers; they punctuates “The Poet,” the operatic postmodernism of “Erishta,” and elsewhere. The gentle “Pagan Lullaby” lives up to its name, but it's the elegiac “Holy” that's particularly sublime. These are balanced by more visceral pieces; while “The Court Jester” starts and ends with harpsichord, it morphs with insistent, metal-like rhythms, and the intense “Pt. 2 Alternative” sounds like a sweaty rock epic. Suffice to say, Shadow Theater is one of the more broadminded jazz fusions of recent years.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Pianist Tigran Hamasyan won the Thelonious Monk competition in 2006, as well as the respect of such boundary-breaking jazzmen as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Brad Mehldau. Now the Armenian-born artist—who moved to L.A. with his family at age 16—returns with his fifth album. While 2011’s well-received A Fable alternated between solo piano songs and textured modern pieces, this one deftly mixes tangled beats, classical music romanticism, Eastern European folk, taunt boundary-free arrangements, and a rigorous set of piano chops. Another interesting wrinkle are the haunting chorale vocals from him and female singers; they punctuates “The Poet,” the operatic postmodernism of “Erishta,” and elsewhere. The gentle “Pagan Lullaby” lives up to its name, but it's the elegiac “Holy” that's particularly sublime. These are balanced by more visceral pieces; while “The Court Jester” starts and ends with harpsichord, it morphs with insistent, metal-like rhythms, and the intense “Pt. 2 Alternative” sounds like a sweaty rock epic. Suffice to say, Shadow Theater is one of the more broadminded jazz fusions of recent years.

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