The Fuse Is Lit

Eugene Maslov

Mack Avenue Records, 2002

REVIEW BY: Andrea Callahan


The Fuse Is Lit, the third endeavor of Russian jazz pianist Eugene Maslov on Mack Avenue Records, has all the hallmarks of traditional jazz, but with a very different flavor. There are wonderful improvised sections; the tempo and swing are all there. But Maslov also includes elaborate melodies such as one might expect in classical music, and a feeling of a story in each song. "Baba Yaga" is exceptionally fanciful, and the lack of vocals in no way impairs the musician's ability to tell a story.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Maslov is an excellent composer. The Fuse Is Lit contains a good selection of thoughtful music, such as "Dream of Dreams" and "Django." Other songs on the album, such as "Entente" and "To My Teacher / To My Friend," are very upbeat. Maslov's compositions play to the strengths of the instruments that are featured in the solos. In "Dream of Dreams," transitions between the piano solos and the flute solos are immediate, seamless, and feature a complete change in style which highlights the sound of the instrument. This leads to a very real sound of voices, with each instrument being a participant in a play. Each participant has a role that they are well accommodated to play.

Some of the finest flute playing that I've heard is performed by Hubert Laws on three of the nine tracks. Boris Kozlov performs on bass, Pete Christlieb on tenor sax, while drum duty is shared by Joe LaBarbera and Vinnie Colaiuta. These players are each allowed a chance in the spotlight, playing solos while all other instruments maintain a faint rhythm section behind them. Perhaps too faint; I find that when a solo is taking place, it becomes difficult to hear any other instrument. This minor flaw in engineering is my one big gripe. After all, much of jazz improvisation is about the soloist's skill in weaving with the existing melody and rhythm behind them.

I'm not sure that I would recommend Maslov to someone that was a fan of big band jazz or early foot-tapping small-band jazz. The Fuse Is Lit still makes your foot tap, but more importantly it engages your mind and emotions, distracting you from anything else in hand to become completely absorbed by the story of the song. No track on the album contains just one mood or one simple melody. Every song evolves from beginning to end, creating a rich, organic, and truly mesmerizing album.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2004 Andrea Callahan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mack Avenue Records, and is used for informational purposes only.