Evgeny Lebedev: I Hear A Rhapsody Variation


I Hear A Rhapsody Variation


Evgeny Lebedev (piano)


102 Days (Solyd Records SLR-0380)

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Evgeny Lebedev (piano), Jeff Miles (guitar).

Composed by Evgeny Lebedev, based on a theme by George Fragos, Jack Baker, and Dick Gasparre


Recorded: Blink Studio, Cambridge, Massachusetts, October 2006


Rating: 86/100 (learn more)

The combination of piano and guitar is a tricky one, mostly because the instruments live in the same sonic register. If care isn't taken, both are lost in a murky mix. If you want to look back at the possibilities of such a duo done right, check out the Bill Evans/Jim Hall records Undercurrent and Intermodulation.

In a more modern context (read: now!) there is pianist/composer Evgeny Lebedev. On this track, Lebedev pairs with guitarist Jeff Miles to provide a nice example of subtle improvisation in the duo format. The composition begins with a descending, single-note guitar line, piano chords filling out the space. The main theme is then played in a kind of hybrid chord solo with the guitar playing the melody and the piano staying in the left hand. As time progresses, Lebedev and Miles try out as many permutations as possible — traditional guitar comping with piano on lead, piano comping with guitar lead, piano lead with guitar chord volume pedal tricks, traded fours, interleaved passages. That list makes it sound chaotic yet the results are anything but. I have to say it always knocks me out when one musician begins an idea that the next player extends, and you'll find a lot of that on this song.

"I Hear A Rhapsody" has been recorded by many jazz greats (including Evans and Hall on Undercurrent), but Evgeny Lebedev manages to put his own twist on it. It feels fresh again.

Reviewer: Mark Saleski

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