Hakan A. Toker, Messing Around…With The Classics (Navona)
For several months since this CD arrived, I have occasionally looked at the cover photo and concluded that there must be more rewarding things to do than listen to a musician who poses upside down atop a piano giving a victory sign with his right hand and playing what may be a C-D-E triad with his left.
Well, I finally listened, and guess what? It’s an entertaining collection by a pianist with enormous technique and good time feel that often becomes outright swing. A native of Turkey with a music degree from Indiana University, Toker begins with Beethoven’s “Fur Elise”…as a blues. He moves through pieces by Eric Satie, Henry Mancini, J.S. Bach, Paul Desmond, Dvorák and Mozart. He concludes with a 1950s pop song, “Istanbul, Not Constantinople.” Toker is impressive for his massive keyboard skill and his irreverent sense of humor. I’m sorry I waited so long to hear him.
You can’t judge an album by its cover.