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State of Mind is # 2 in JazzTimes Critics' picks 2003.

Jesse Varella, JazzTimes Magazine       


       It is very rarely that any CD stays too long in my studio CD Player as I use it to review albums and create sound samples for the many many albums I receive each day for review on the EuroClubdeJazz.com and processing for other clients through the AGMAMI.com side of my business but this 2003 set from Yan Pevzner is simply a magnificent compilation of original self-penned jazz tracks.


       It should be of little surprise when I tell you that Yan holds a Master Degree in Jazz Performance and Composition from New York University and holds an Artistic Diploma in Jazz and Classical Piano from Aubervilliers National Conservatory in France, Yan currently teaches jazz and classical piano at the State University of New York / Westchester Community College and has appeared with a megastar line-up of international stars including Quincy Jones, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Berstein, Christian McBride, Shirley Horn, the list goes on and on.

       This CD 'State Of Mind' is a 2003 release on Jazzkeys Records and also features Martin Wind on bass and Tony Moreno on drums. The 13 self-penned tracks are simply outstanding and provide a journey from contemporary to fusion and from latin to bebop.
His playing contains a rhythmic, harmonic and formal ambiguity and each track is another gripping performance which makes compelling and essential listening. Yan's classical side shows through in some of the tracks on the album with some interesting dissonances and a penchant for counterpoint.

       An album which comes highly recommended, a perfect marriage of piano, bass and drums and a remarkable talent for jazz composition.
This is one not to miss for any contemporary jazz fan and available from Yan's own website.

Wes Gillespie, EuroClubdeJazz

      With the possible exception of female jazz vocalists, the incredible proliferation of the piano trio in modern jazz is almost at epidemic proportions, and represents the proverbial double-edged sword. On one hand it is a format that allows a great deal of personal expression, with a harmonic richness that is difficult to match; on the other, there are so many young pianists out there that it becomes a challenge to ascertain who really stands out; who is really saying something personal, something different. Fortunately there is Yan Pevzner who, with his début release State of Mind, shows the piano trio alive, well and moving forward.

      New York-based Pevzner has a composite style that, aside from the obvious influences like Evans and Corea owes something to more obscure pianists including American Richie Beirach and New Zealander Mike Nock; the American influences are somewhat subsumed in something a little more impressionistic, a little more abstract. Still, in a program of thirteen original compositions, Pevzner demonstrates the ability to play with a style that is strong on melody and rich in texture. Like Swede Esbjorn Svensson and Norwegian Tord Gustavsen, Pevzner always puts the melody first; creating memorable tunes that stay in the mind long after the disk has finished.

       Pevzner’s trio is all about delicacy and interaction, even when the tune calls for a more assertive approach. Drummer Tony Moreno has a light touch and big ears; his interplay with Pevzner on “Eugenia,” as they build from playful to intense is but one of numerous spots on the album where real magic occurs. Bassist Martin Wind has a resonant sound that is reminiscent of Norwegian Arild Andersen, with a similar capability to be felt as much as heard.

       What seems to be a growing trend with modern piano trios is a certain pop sensibility, an economic style that creates solos deep in meaning, even when short in length. There are no wasted notes here; even when Pevzner kicks things up a notch, as he does on the rapidly-swinging “Vadim,” there is a sense of preordination. As much as he submits to inspiration, there is the feeling that he visualizes his solos as stories, with clear arcs, clear beginnings, middles and endings.

       Pevzner and the trio explore a multitude of feels on State of Mind, but never stray from the basic concepts of lyricism, impressionism and interaction, all within a concise structural framework. This is an auspicious recording from a young pianist who, with sympathetic partners in Wind and Moreno, creates a sound that breathes, and a sound that whispers more than it roars; as subtle and understated as the trio often is, they have a clear presence that is felt throughout.

Reviewed by: John Kelman , JazzReview.com

       Voici le dernier album d'un pianiste né en 1974 et vivant aux Etats-Unis. Même si Yan Pevzner est encore assez peu connu, ce superbe opus devrait lui ouvrir les portes d'une notoriété bien méritée. Ce jeune pianiste trentenaire a étudié la musique à l'université de New-York, mais également au Conservatoire d'Aubervilliers en France. Or, on peut dire que l'on retrouve une part d'influence européenne dans son style.

       Notons tout d'abord que tous les morceaux de ce CD sont des compositions originales, et certaines d'entre-elles valent vraiment le détour. On peut dire que l'album oscille entre de superbes ballades et des morceaux beaucoup plus rythmés. Pour ce qui est des ballades, on peut se référer à la pièce intitulée "Achnowledge". C'est un morceau magnifique, tout en finesse, alternant des passages qui s'étirent à l'infini et des relances rythmiques bien senties. En plus, les solos sont magnifiques.

       Pour ce qui est des morceaux plus enlevés, "Vadium" est un modèle du genre. Lors du thème, la contrebasse répond au piano, le tout accompagné d'un chabada parfait.
Ce qui m'a le plus choqué sur cet album, notamment sur des morceaux tels que "Vadim" ou "On the road", c'est le parallèle que l'on peut faire entre Pevzner et Laurent de Wilde. Laurent De Wilde est un jeune pianiste français, avec un style assez similaire à Pevzner, tout particulièrement si l'on considère l'album "Spoon-a-rhythm".

       Un mot sur le reste du trio de Pevzner.
Le contrebassiste est Martin Wind. Son jeu se marie parfaitement à celui du pianiste. Il prend pratiquement un solo sur chaque morceau, à chaque fois avec une finesse indiscutable. Le batteur se nomme Tony Moreno. Les amateurs du genre vont se régaler avec son jeu de cymbales absolument incroyable. Le travail effectué à ce niveau est tout simplement stupéfiant. Une vraie belle découverte. On peut seulement regretter qu'il n'improvise pas plus souvent.

       Pour conclure, je conseille fortement cet album à tous les amoureux du trio. L'ensemble est impeccable et proposant une musique assez jeune. Bonne écoute à tous !

Review by: Patrick Haond , Euroclubdejazz.com

       Few musicians combine – and fewer do so successfully – the free spirit and openness of jazz with the precision and discipline of classical music.  Many of these musicians are pianists.   This is not an accidental fact.  Rather, it occurs because the piano is an instrument directly related to classical music and because most pianists start with classical studies and are always attracted to and inspired by the great composers.  

       Yan Pevzner, a classically educated young pianist with considerable teaching and performing experience is one such musicians who ventures into the fusion of jazz and classical music quite successfully in his debut CD, “State of Mind”.  “State of Mind” is a collection of 13 original tunes that unveils Pevzner’s prolific compositional gift.  Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett are two of his profound influences, but the melancholy emitted by his keyboard is suggestive of Central Europe.  The album is ruled by strong melodies, lyricism, and deep impressionistic colors painted by this pianist’s gentle fingering in direct response to the trio’s other two parts: bassist Martin Wind and drummer Tony Moreno, the latter of them being one of Pevzner’s teacher’s.  The overall impression that “State of Mind” creates is that it is an outstanding album recommended not only to piano lovers, but to all jazz fans.

Review by : Vangelis Aragiannis "Ipirotikos Agon" Ioannina, Greece

      Born in Russia, and for several years a resident of New York City, pianist-composer Yan Pevzner is a highly educated artist and teacher who launched his recording career with his 2003 solo debut State of Mind. He's performed with a who's-who of jazz artists, as well as large orchestra gigs with Hollywood film scoring legend Patrick Williams. On his superb 2008 outing, Forward Motion, Pevzner attains a fruitful medium by producing top-flight compositions that are designed with a sense of controlled vibrancy and fluent trajectories.

      Pevzner employs a strong band, featuring a wonderful foil in Sam Newsome's breezy soprano sax phrasings over the top. A good portion of these works offer split-second shifts in momentum amid odd-metered unison charts. But the pianist doesn't get mired in a consortium of technicalities and dissonant harmonic gyrations, which seem to be attributes of some young and well-schooled jazz artists. On the flip side, Pevzner fuses memorable melodies with resplendent soloing jaunts, while purveying an open-air sound.

      On "The Curtain Is Down," Pevzner leads the charge via a rapidly-paced swing vamp, where he injects bluesy trills and lower register block chords into the mix, countered by drummer Tony Moreno's sweeping tom rolls. During the high-impact movements, the pianist sprinkles radiant harmonic chord clusters and brisk single-note leads within various passages, as he trades buoyant fours with Newsome. Moreover, bassist Martin Wind lays out a pliant bottom-end, here and throughout.

      The piece titled "Watching Me Leave" is a gentle ballad that casts notions of optimism, and elicits imagery of perhaps overcoming a traumatic event. Yet matters heat up during the bridge, which is a pattern that follows suit with the razor-sharp swing groove heard on the following piece, "Quiet Force."

      Pevzner doesn't necessarily outline a new direction in modern jazz. Essentially, he transmits a broad and rather cunning musical vista that seemingly incorporates the best of numerous jazz-based components. More importantly, he bridges the gap between the cerebral spectrum while spawning a highly listenable and quite endearing program that intimates alluring characteristics.

Glenn Astarita, AllAboutJazz.com

      One of the great and wonderful things about the Latin and especially Brazilian forms of jazz is that it’s malleable and open ended enough to inspire seemingly endless variations and extensions on it while remaining distinctly Latin. Chick Corea had built a big chunk of his career around creatively capitalizing on the festive rhythms and melodies of this jazz sub-form.

      A more recent case in point is “West South” by Russian-born pianist and composer Yan Pevzner. For the second part of this mini-suite, Pevzner chops up a samba into a few discreet compartments, with Moreno even applying an 11/8 metre in spots. These shifts provide the foundation for the pianist’s own jugular path, playing along the main harmony with Newsome with his right hand and the bass line with Wind with his left. Both fleet-footed and light on his feet, Pevzner steers across jagged terrain with dexterity and a great deal of confidence. His commanding solo seems like a walk in the park, by comparison.

     “West South (Part 2)” is anything but that, but it is easy to appreciate.

S. Victor Aaron, jazz.com




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