Recording Date: Apr 2, 2007 - Oct 15, 2007
The title of this brilliant and multi-faceted twenty-something pianist's 2006 Concord Records debut Lucky to Be Me was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The disc's success took the former child prodigy to a higher level of success, earning him the covers of Jazziz and Keyboard Magazine, and a profile in his own BETJ TV special. A major airplay hit on jazz radio throughout the year, the disc also earned Taylor Eigsti two Grammy nominations. On his second release, he's being a little more ironic with his title, knowing that the accolades will continue but only because he is topping himself creatively and musically. Once again, he proves himself a master interpreter, ensemble player, and composer. Though three of his four originals - collectively gathered as the "Fallback Plan Suite" - are tucked at the end, they display an exciting melodic and slight pop sensibility that perfectly balances the insane flurries of chops on the rest of the collection. The suite's first track "Less Free Will" is a lyrical, slow building, funk-spiked jazz piece that finds him in perfect synch with tenor players Dayna Stephens and Ben Wendel, and flutist Evan Francis. His solo in the midst is elegant and restrained, with subtle horn enhancements. The second movement "Not Lost Yet" features a lovely, sparse arrangement, with only subtle horn and flute textures behind Eigsti's rhythmic musings. "Brick Steps" brings up the energy, with rumbling percussion, rolling piano lines, and darting, punchy horns. This trio of songs is enough to sell jazz fans on the magnificence of the album, but there's equal joy in exploring his twists and turns through a series of pieces from different jazz and pop eras - starting with his thoughtful, low-key then frenetic exuberance on Cole Porter's "I Love You" and running through a high-spirited, strutting and swinging romp on Wayne Shorter's "Deluge." Eigsti puts a clever Afro-Cuban tinge on Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington's "Caravan," and he and guitarist Julian Lage share a hypnotic and sensitive, classically tinged duet on Jobim's "Portrait in Black and White." The pianist saves his richest inventions, however, for a bravura blast through Pat Metheny's "Timeline," a dedication to Michael Brecker featuring several minutes of sizzling improvisation and hardcore jamming by Joshua Redman. Another unique, hip choice is his graceful touch on "Not Ready Yet" by the pop band the Eels. There comes a time in every former prodigy's life when he/she has to be judged by their output as an adult. Eigsti's just keeps getting more compelling and inspiring.
- Jonathan Widran (All Music Guide)