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Eldar Salutes His Elders With 'Virtue'

On a wet, chilly October afternoon, the prodigiously talented young jazz pianist Eldar visited the KPLU performance studio in Seattle, where he immediately warmed everyone up with his outgoing personality and stunning solo piano work.

Speaking with KPLU jazz host Kevin Kniestedt, Eldar talked about his family's move from Kyrgyzstan (in what was then the Soviet Union) to Kansas City when he was 9, and described how much he learned from that city's veteran jazz musicians.

"Kansas City, at the time, had a great music scene," Eldar says. "There were a lot of different musicians, especially older ones who were so open to younger musicians... I guess it was part of that Midwestern heart."

Eldar's most recent CD, Virtue, gave him a chance to work with some of his mentors in the jazz world, including Nicholas Payton, whom he first met at a Brubeck Colony at age 15. (Eldar is now 22.) In this session, Eldar showcased his improvisational and compositional skills with three solo piano pieces: the standard "I Should Care" and two originals, "Insensitive" and "Vanilla Sky/Exposition."

Copyright 2009 KNKX Public Radio