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During the past decade and a half, Tigran Hamasyan has earned a reputation as one of the most forward-thinking improvising musicians, deftly incorporating Armenian folk, rock, electronic and classical elements into his sound. His latest record comprises (almost) exclusively American standards from the 1920s through the 1950s. It’s a look back, but the results are just as inspired as the innovative pianist’s original material.That’s immediately clear on Elmo Hope’s bop classic “De-Dah.” Hamasyan and his core trio partners, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Justin Brown, deconstruct the main theme with odd meters while maintaining its melodic core. On “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” Hamasyan’s patient, syncopated phrases dance around Brown and Brewer’s slow-burning groove. Later, Hamasyan’s thick chords and his solo at the bass end of the keyboard paint the tune with a much darker hue than usual.Mark Turner guests on a piano-tenor sax duet of “All the Things You Are.” Hamasyan’s delicate arpeggios support Turner’s languorous phrases, resulting in a celestial vibe. Charlie Parker’s “Big Foot” is deconstructed and reharmonized to lend it a more contemporary flair, with Joshua Redman delivering pointed lines on tenor sax. Throughout, Hamasyan’s solos are virtuosic without being overstuffed. His dexterous runs on “De-Dah,” “Big Foot” and “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise” always retain a strong sense of melodic and narrative clarity. And the pianist’s way of making the familiar seem new is captivating, with one exception: David Raskin and Johnny Mercer’s haunting ballad “Laura” is stripped of all context by the breakneck pace and lack of melodic reference.Taking a creative approach to well-known classics showcases Hamasyan’s versatility. The trick lies in his executing it without pretension. Indeed, the eclectic styles on display are all integrated elements of Hamasyan’s unique and compelling musical voice. — John Frederick Moore https://open.spotify.com/album/1j9abB0wpxOjBxSmdeNIbP?si=cVy4_0QcSWyy9KFza2k_Ow