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Dimitri Naïditch – who has made a specialty of reinterpreting classical compositions in jazz (from Bach to Mozart and Liszt) – is not the first pianist to take an interest in the work of Frédéric Chopin.

His predecessors include Art Tatum, Jacques Loussier and, of course, Poland’s Leszek Mozdzer. The particularity of the Ukrainian-born pianist, who has lived in France since the early 90s, which he shares with Loussier and Moszdzer, is that all three have a solid classical background.

Their decision to turn to jazz came late in their formative years. In other words, Naïditch is familiar with Chopin’s repertoire, which he was able to interpret literally before turning to jazz.

While the pianist’s mastery of the keyboard clearly stems from his classical training, and manifests itself, among other things, in his highly subtle touch, his improvisational skills leave no doubt that he is an authentic jazzman steeped in swing, and admirably in tune with the piano/bass/drums trio tradition.

Most of the themes on this CD are recorded in this format, with the addition of excellent partners Gilles Naturel and Lukmil Perez. The others are played solo and showcase Naïditch‘s artistry, including a sense of nuance and dynamics that make his piano literally sing, and do full justice to tunes originally composed by a musician in love with beautiful melodies.

We know that Chopin, like Liszt, was – in addition to his talents as a composer – an outstanding improviser. There is, of course, no evidence of this talent, which has since disappeared from most classical pianists.

Dimitri Naïditch gives us a glimpse of what Chopin’s music might have sounded like, improvised by its composer.

This recording should then delight Chopin lovers as well as jazz piano enthusiasts and those who simply love the beautiful piano.

Line up:

Dimitri Naïditch: piano, compositions, arrangements

Gilles Naturel: double bass

Lukmil Perez: drums

Chopin Sensations was released by Dinai Records on 19 June 2024. It is selected on Couleurs Jazz Radio.

©Photos Marc Ribes

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