Whenever I reflect on gaining wisdom or insight on anything, I can’t help but think of the many heralded teachers and noble masters of their crafts who really know and knew what they are and were talking about in any given situation or manner of discourse. The sagacity of these heroes and sheroes is priceless and beyond challenge.
That reality hits close to home when I think of assessing the cognitive acumen of the musical legends of a favorite listening art form which is the entertaining landscape called jazz. And when it comes to that knowledgeable activity today, very few would argue that the universally recognized and truly legendary American classical musical pioneer Ahmad Jamal certainly fits that bill a thousand times over because he knows what he’s talking about.
I consider myself very fortunate to know this revered musical impresario in such a way that when he speaks or talks about the world of jazz, or American classical music, as he prefers to call his craft, I, respectfully and humbly, listen with all ears tuned to this world renowned genius’ insights and vibes. He, again, knows what he’s talking about.
This brings me to the purpose of this article, and that is to tell you about a new and dynamic jazz pianist named Shahin Norvasli, hailing from of all places, Baku, Azerbaijan. He’s highly touted by none other than the great piano master himself, Ahmad Jamal, and Mr. Jamal is raving about this young and dynamic performer to the highest degrees of musical laudable praises.
Listen: when someone of the caliber of the great Ahmad Jamal talks about an emerging genius on the jazz scene, I, for one, concentrate carefully, and I take note of who he’s recommending or advising me about. This dynamic pianist, who is simply identified as Shahin (sha-heen), is rocking the international jazz scene with his smooth interpretations and delicate musical vibrations, and he’s managed by Mr. Jamal and his management team.
Mr. Jamal made me aware of this phenomenal new performer on the jazz scene about a two months ago when when he sponsored Mr. Shahin in a performance at New York City’s world famous Blue Note jazz club and restaurant venue in early September of this year. The press coverage covering Mr. Shahin’s performance there was superlative and overwhelmingly enthusiastic.
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Mr. Shahin, who performs with equal brilliance in both solo and ensemble presentations, has an exciting new CD out called Emanation, a timely listening stunner with nine tunes, all which are written by Mr. Shahin for Mayah Publishing Inc. on the ACM Productions/Jazzbook Records label. The tunes are something to behold with the title cut, “Emanation,” and “Ancient Parallel” taking the listener on unique, celestial sound voyages that’s totally pleasurable.
I especially loved “Saga,” “Yellow Nightingale,” and “Misri Blues,” tunes that show you why Mr. Jamal raves about this next jazz superstar in the making. The brother is simply baaad and with bassist James Cammack, Erekle Kolava on percussion, along with the ever steady Andre Ceccarelli on drums, providing a solid rhythmic backdrop, Shahin’s musical ensemble captivates the sophisticated musical lovers’ ears with groovy and polite jazz vibrations that keep you wanting to hear more.
The Emanation CD also features “Song of Ashug,” “Land” and a playful tune called “Jungle,” all which spice up your listening mood as Shahin’s jazz and classical influences and his skilled musicians’ undertones embrace your listening moods with complete musical dexterity and warm personal affection. Believe me, Shahin and his group are that good, and the ensuing buzz that’s beginning to surround them is no lightweight, or “spur of the moment” happening.
It’s to be noted that it is Ahmad Jamal whom the late, great Miles Davis gave the credit for inspiring him to further develop his unique approach in furthering his own knowledge of jazz improvisation. Remember that I’m talking about Miles’ sentiments about Mr. Jamal’s musical genius, and that alone should tell anyone, even the most musical novice, how deep that Ahmad Jamal is respected as an unquestioned and informative musical genius.
When Mr. Jamal was coaxed out of retirement to play at the world famous Marciac Jazz Festival for his landmark and milestone concert in southwestern France in August of this year, Shahin opened for him in a stellar solo performance. There were more than 250,000 attendees at this awesome entertainment spectacle for its three weeks festival’s programmatic events.
Shahin Norvasli’s CD Emanation will have an official February 2017 release date, and Mr. Jamal’s much-anticipated Marciac concert performance will be officially be released worldwide in May 2017.
I was glad to have gotten an advanced review promo copy of Emanation because it verified what Mr. Jamal, the great musical sage and griot that he is, was talking about. And that was that Shahin Norvasli certainly is an up-and-coming star in the cosmos of present and future great jazz musicians.
This thirty-nine-year old Azerbaijanian resident is ready to explode on the jazz horizons with his distinctive piano stylings. As Mr. Jamal related to me via our most recent telephone interview sharing his direct impressions, he offered, “Shahin is a not a special player. He’s extraordinary. We (Mr. Jamal’s management company) only handle extraordinary performers, and he, like Japanese-born pianist and composer Horomi, are extraordinary, talent-wise, among their other personal qualities as human beings.
“The only people we respect are extraordinary talents. What attracted us to Shahin was his extraordinary talents, and (I believe) he’s the next star that going to paint some new horizons on the piano and musically speaking.” That just about says it all from my vantage point because the master player and imminent teacher Ahmad Jamal has spoken.
Shahin Norvasli, professionally known as Shahin, is a rising star, whose emergence is soon to be recognized by all. His new CD, Emanation, will surely attest to that. Check it out when it becomes available, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. For today and always, that’s, “As I See It.”
The article appeared in the Wednesday’s October 26, 2016 edition of “The Charleston Chronicle”.