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Jazz sensation Eldar to play free concert in Topeka

By The Mercury

TOPEKA — Topeka Jazz Workshop, Inc., will present the Eldar Djangirov jazz trio Sunday, June 22, from 3-4:30 p.m. at White Concert Hall on the Washburn University campus.

The concert is free and open to the public. 

“This event is made possible by our generous board member, Liz Stratton,”  said Marcene Grimes, executive director of TJW Inc.  “Ms. Stratton has presented Eldar three times since 2007, primarily as a bonus concert for TJW season members.  This time she wanted to make it a community-wide event, and with the capacity at White Concert Hall, we believe we will be able to accommodate everyone who wants to come hear this exciting trio.  No tickets needed, just come and enjoy.”

Pianist Eldar, known professionally by his first name,  was born 27 years ago in the former Soviet Union country of Krygyzstan.  He began studying piano with his music teacher mother at age 5. 

At age 9 he was “discovered” at a Russian Jazz Festival by a New York jazz enthusiast who arranged for him to come to the United States and study at the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. 

Eldar and his parents settled in Kansas City, and his jazz career skyrocketed.  At age 12, he became the youngest ever guest artist on the renowned “Marian McPartland Piano Jazz” show on NPR.

He was also discovered at age 12 by the late Jim Monroe, longtime president of Topeka Jazz Workshop, who invited him to participate in the 1999 Topeka Jazz Festival.  He continued to appear at those festivals annually through 2005.

By age 17, Eldar had become a one-name jazz artist known for his “prodigious pyrotechnics and precocious knowledge of the bebop tradition.” Along the way, he has met and worked with the masters, including Billy Taylor, Marion McPartland,  Dave Brubeck, Michael Brecker, Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Nicholas Payton,  Ron Carter, Chris Botti, and Roy Hargrove.

He has appeared at numerous jazz festivals around the world and has toured extensively in North America, Europe and Asia. 

Eldar currently lives in New York City, but still calls Kansas City home.

“While Eldar’s solo piano appearance here in 2011 leaned heavily on the classical side,”  Grimes said , “this time he is bringing in a swinging jazz-oriented trio, including Topeka native Todd Strait on drums.”

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