This year, David Gazarov performs with his trio at the Brunnenhof Open Air Concert in Munich yet again, as he has done since 2014. Many of those who took in the concert last year (despite the large-scale classical music event taking place in neighboring Odeon Square) had been in attendance the previous year, as well. As has tended to be the case at the trio’s other performances at the Rheingau Music Festival, the Augsburg Mozartfest, the Leipzig Bachfest, or Meran, Dubrovnik or Taipei: The keen desire to hear Jacques Loussier’s successor, as the press has called him, is fulfilled within the first few beats of the music. Gazarov, who studied piano and composition with a well-known student of Shostakovich and found his way to jazz by listening to Voice of America in secret, is more than just a second edition of the Play Bach Legend. If it wasn’t clear before, it becomes quite clear when he turns a simple Bach chorale into an ecstatic gospel piece or transforms a technically daunting Chopin prelude into a bebop extravaganza whose virtuosity and technical complexity cannot be topped.
With Oscar Peterson’s “Hymn to Freedom,” or “Lover,” by Rodgers-Hart, David Gazarov succeeds in captivating his audience through the very last chord. And they in turn break out in wild, wooping applause to demonstrate their ardor. The trio evokes the great swing-bebop virtuosos whom one so rarely hears these days, whether in concert halls or at large jazz festivals. And we heard it from Martin Drew, who was Oscar Peterson’s drummer for 33 years – David Gazarov is truly one of the greats: “The only one who gets anywhere near Oscar”