Eugene Maslov: The Witch (Baba-Yaga)
The Witch (Baba-Yaga)
Eugene Maslov (piano)
The Fuse Is Lit (Mack Avenue MAC 1006)
Eugene Maslov (piano),
Boris Kozlov (bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums).
Composed by Eugene Maslov.
Recorded: Santa Monica, CA, October 2001
Rating: 97/100 (learn more)
Russian-born Eugene Maslov emigrated to the U.S. in 1989 after studying classical piano as well as taking Jazz Studies, and eventually settled in Philadelphia. Although he has recorded several CDs, he is far from a household name, despite a dynamic and flexible piano style that can be as effusive as Oscar Peterson's or as wistful as Bill Evans's. Maslov's tour-de-force performance of "The Witch (Baba-Yaga)" brings to the fore an intense passion coupled with prodigious technique. Baba Yaga in Slavic folklore is a menacing witch who flies around on an oversized mortar, terrorizing children. The ninth piece of Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky's piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition is dedicated to this mythological character, and the rock group Emerson Lake & Palmer, in their popular adaptation of this suite, also added an original composition, "The Curse of Baba Yaga." Now it was Maslov's turn to bring Baba Yaga to musical life.
The pianist's whirlwind excursion ebbs and flows, containing boppish, swinging sections in contrast to its pensive, mystical interludes. Swirling runs and pounding chords alternate with passages of childlike wonder. A remarkable extended fantasia is backed by haunted vocalizing (or is it Kozlov's arco bass?). Dissonant broodings laced with foreboding do not prepare you for Maslov's gentle concluding phrases. This and many other tracks by this superb pianist are well worth hearing.
Reviewer: Scott Albin