Live Review: Gigi Tsintsadze Quartet @ 1984, Tbilisi

Gigi Tsintsadze Quartet live at 1984, Tbilisi, 03/07/2023

On a narrow cobbled street off Liberty Square in Tbilisi, Georgia, sits the unassuming jazz venue 1984. Three floors up, you can find a delicate interior design that recalls a posh Parisian tea house, though patrons tonight mainly drink beer and Georgian wine while eating delicious-smelling pasta and pizza. 

I found this cosy jazz bar by chance, noticing a sign for jazz on the sidewalk as I wandered around aimlessly looking for some escape, a recalibration. I ordered a Coke and sat at the bar, admiring the chic interior and surveying the small crowd of ten to twenty people. The entertainment came courtesy of Gigi Tsintsadze Quartet, a young ensemble with plenty of spirit in their focused performances. 

Tsintsadze's playing strikes me as show-offy at first. His nimble fingers operate the fretboard with an impressive speed, but don't always find satisfying ideas. However, it seems he is a guitarist who requires only a brief warm-up; and he quickly soothes into watery and fluid playing, his flurry of notes going as they come. He is joined by Noe Gabashvili on bass, Soso Tsagareishvili on drums, and Egor Popov on trumpet. Gabashvili is steadfast, but finds plenty of opportunity to go on adventures around her stunted lines. Tsagareishvili is a wildly loose player, sometimes drastically so, but he often highlights sections with clever fills and creative rim shots. Egor Popov has an ear for the romantic and good judgement for when enough is enough, carefully balancing his performances with shifts in intensity. 

Tsintsadze’s original compositions are ebullient, and are saved from being mawkish by patient and somewhat aimless passages. His melodies, though, have the irreverently bright bounce of Esbjörn Svensson Trio or Penguin Cafe Orchestra, and deliver a real sense of joy. Suddenly, the sonics in the small room ironed out the creases in my mind as I happily bopped along in my seat. 

At intermission, I went out to the balcony for a cigarette. There, the band looked over sheet music while practising transitions with wordless, percussive vocals. The night was warm, and the street below was well populated. The night was young, but I left before the second half. I got what I had come for.