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Young Kyrgyzstani Jazz Musician Finds Success in US

Eldar Djangirov's dream of coming to America and playing jazz came true years ago. But an even bigger dream of recording an album with a major label has also come true. For Eldar, as he's known, patience and persistence can pay off.

Most young musicians would say that getting a record contract is career highlight. But ask Eldar, and he might humbly tell you that the real payoff for his years of practice at the piano was meeting a few of his childhood jazz heroes, like Dave Brubeck and Oscar Peterson. Of course, Eldar had no idea that someday he would actually be playing alongside these and other jazz luminaries.

Eldar's musical journey began in Kyrgyzstan, where he listened to his father's jazz record collection while fine-tuning his own musical skills on the family piano. Under his mother's tutelage, Eldar quickly progressed to playing intricate jazz pieces by pianists Bill Evans and Art Tatum. He performed at the Siberian Jazz Festival when he was only nine-years-old, an event that eventually brought him to the United States.

His eye-opening speed and dexterity on piano combined with his dedication to jazz at such a young age brought him nationwide attention. He performed on national radio and television programs; appeared on a musical segment of the 2000 Grammy Awards; and was the top contender at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival and Peter Nero Piano Competition. In 2004, at the request of Wynton Marsalis, he performed at the opening of Lincoln Center's new jazz venue, Rose Hall. Eldar had just turned 18 when Sony Records announced with much fanfare the release of his self-titled album in March 2005.

Eldar recently completed his first year of music studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Of course, when you're one of today's fastest rising jazz stars, it's not easy trying to live the life of a college student. Eldar is already back on tour, supporting his latest release Live At The Blue Note, featuring guest trumpeters Roy Hargrove and Chris Botti.