Review by Wade Vonasek
According to his web site, AYA, the 2007 release from, the New York-based, Russian-born, pianist/composer/producer Misha Piatigorsky, was a labor of love for the artist. He wanted to put out a record with his compositions produced his way using any and all elements of music that suited his whim. The results are 12 diverse pieces that showcase Piatigorsky's strength as a composer and keep the listener curiously wondering what will come next.
The opening track, "Mama Got Me Thinkin'" features Piatigorsky's simple Hammond bursts with sassy vocals from Barbara Mendes (Sergio's wife), whose voice and style stand out on three other tracks as well. The spoken word intro by Rahj and Peter Klinke's slinky bass in "Low Talk" bring to mind a dark, smoky jazz club with a bar glass full of tips on Piatigorsky's piano. The choir-like vocals of "Sancte Katherine" contrast, yet meld, with the active drums that carry the song. "Green Monkey" and "Boogaloo Madness" feature funky horns from Omar Kabir and Boris Kurganov and jumpy keys from Piatigorsky.
Other standouts include "Amerikana," with a somewhat gloomy piano intro, Willard Dyson's superb cymbal work and beautiful vocals from Mendes; "Promises," whose percussion, and a vocal melody sung by Judy Bady and Ayelet Piatigorsky, have an almost Middle Eastern feel flowing beneath Piatigorsky's piano; and "One Time and Again (Anatalya's Lullaby)," with Mendes' upbeat vocals and sparse parts that fit together like a musical jigsaw puzzle.
With AYA, Misha Piatigorsky covers a lot of ground, while at the same time retaining his own sound. The musicians all sound solid, but not showboaty, which is a testament to Piatigorsky's compositions. Piatigorsky seems to have been thinking a little outside the box on AYA, and is rewarded for this with the distinctive batch of songs that make up this excellent release.