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Fast-Paced Jazz Piano in the Key of Eldar

At 18, Eldar Djangirov is already a veteran jazz performer.
At 18, Eldar Djangirov is already a veteran jazz performer.

Pianist Eldar Djangirov plays with the verve and style that one would expect from a seasoned jazz artist, but he's just 18 years old.

His parents taught him to play the piano in their native Kyrgyzstan. The first thing he remembers learning was "C Jam Blues," when he was 3. He later took classical lessons and was "discovered" at age 9 by the late New York City jazz aficionado Charles McWhorter, who saw him play at a festival in Siberia.

The family moved to Kansas City, drawn there in large part by the city's jazz history, before moving on to San Diego.

The young star enjoys popular music, citing Radiohead among his favorites, and he has a reputation for piano pyrotechnics. He plays many pieces with remarkable speed and dexterity, including a version of "Take the A Train" that races along the tracks.

But on ballads such as "Nature Boy," he manages to rein in his youthful enthusiasm.

Eldar recently stopped by NPR's Studio 4A to talk to Liane Hansen about his music, his new, self-titled CD... and to rattle the keyboard.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Liane Hansen
Liane Hansen has been the host of NPR's award-winning Weekend Edition Sunday for 20 years. She brings to her position an extensive background in broadcast journalism, including work as a radio producer, reporter, and on-air host at both the local and national level. The program has covered such breaking news stories as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the deaths of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy, Jr., and the Columbia shuttle tragedy. In 2004, Liane was granted an exclusive interview with former weapons inspector David Kay prior to his report on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The show also won the James Beard award for best radio program on food for a report on SPAM.