back to the community,” a phrase often used when someone from a given
location achieves success at something and then contributes in some way
to another’s quality of life. What better way for a renowned recording
artist to give back than to discover or introduce new talent?
Beka Gochiashvili (2012), the self-titled debut of a young
pianist, produced by Lenny White, who earlier in 2012 introduced a
charming young vocalist, Letizia Gambi.
Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, on March 11, 1996, Gochiashvili was just three
years old when he began dabbling on piano. Within five years, he was
good enough to win competitions. At 16, Gochiashvili found himself
surrounded by a wealth of jazz talent for this recording. Return to
Forever partners, drummer White and bassist Stanley Clarke are on this
date, along with such notables as bassists John Patitucci and Victor
Bailey, trumpeter Wallace Roney, alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw.
The opening track sets the keys ablaze from the start. “Un Gran Abrazo,”
dedicated to White and Clarke’s Forever bandmate, Chick Corea. The
rhythms are like those of a vintage Corea composition. Guitarist Tom
Guarna and the saxophonists give it an Elektric Band feel. Throughout,
Gochiashvili tickles the ivory in a way that would make proud his
musical fathers, Corea and Keith Jarrett.
Gochiashvili also honors Jarrett with “For Keith,” a trio piece.
Gochiavshili says he went crazy at the age of 4 when he heard Jarrett’s
1986 recording, Standards II. He was 6 when he heard Corea’s
trio album, Fingerprints. A later e-mail from Corea ended with,
“Bye Beka, Un Gran Abrazo,” (a big hug).
Roney steps in for the bright, energetic – and all-too brief – “New
York.” Other highlights include “Chicknstan.” Despite the title’s
appearance, it’s not some obscure country in Eastern Europe or a clever
nod to poultry. It’s shorthand for Corea and Clarke, White’s Return to
Forever bandmates, for whom he wrote this piece. “Herio Bichebo,” one of
two pieces written by Georgian composer Giya Kanchli, features
19-year-old Georgian opera vocalist Natalia Kutateladze.
It all comes together for an exciting debut by Gochiashvili.