Amazon.com Widgets

Vijay Iyer Trio: Historicity (2009)

By Published: | 6,625 views
Vijay Iyer Trio: Historicity How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The art of the piano trio has enjoyed a healthy renaissance over the past two decades, as a plethora of new stars have ascended the ranks to uphold and advance the tradition. Ethan Iverson
Ethan Iverson
Ethan Iverson
b.1973
piano
, Brad Mehldau
Brad Mehldau
Brad Mehldau
b.1970
piano
, Jason Moran
Jason Moran
Jason Moran
b.1975
piano
, and Matthew Shipp
Matthew Shipp
Matthew Shipp
b.1960
piano
are just a few of the adventurous younger artists whose notion of the trio is anything but staid, yet firmly linked to the hallowed format's core principles of intimate three-way communication.

Add to this short list Vijay Iyer, whose first proper trio record, Historicity, places him squarely in the company of his peers. As the leader of a visceral post-M-Base quartet featuring alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa

Rudresh Mahanthappa
Rudresh Mahanthappa
b.1971
sax, alto
, bassist Stephan Crump, and drummer Marcus Gilmore, Iyer has occasionally embarked on brief trio excursions with Crump and Gilmore before, but never for an entire recording session. Serving as his rhythm section since 2005's Reimagining (Savoy), Crump and Gilmore's studied rapport belies the underlying complexity of Iyer's oblique structures and unorthodox arrangements, providing this date with graceful concordance.

Featuring a post-modern array of covers, punctuated by a handful of Iyer's characteristically thorny originals, the album successfully blends seemingly disparate source material into a cohesive listening experience, finding common ground among a surprising variety of tunes.

Veering from the avant-garde spectrum—a dramatic, funky take on Julius Hemphill

Julius Hemphill
Julius Hemphill
1938 - 1995
sax, alto
's "Dogon A.D." and a typically abstruse rendition of Andrew Hill
Andrew Hill
Andrew Hill
1937 - 2007
piano
's "Smoke Stack"—to the pop mainstream—Ronnie Foster
Ronnie Foster
b.1950
keyboard
's spellbinding "Mystic Brew," Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
b.1950
keyboard
's portentous "Big Brother," and M.I.A.'s fervent "Galang"—Iyer covers all bases. He even deconstructs Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
1918 - 1990
composer/conductor
's "Somewhere," cascading over Crump and Gilmore's evenhanded pulse with quicksilver cadences that soar with bittersweet optimism.

The trio embraces a multitude of techniques to realize the subtle timbral differences of each song. Crump's pliant pizzicato and resonant arco expand the trio's sonic palette with sinewy muscularity, while Gilmore's polyrhythmic fusillades add layers of temporal intrigue. Iyer reveals a variety of approaches, from blinding chromatic runs and hypnotic arpeggios to spacious introspection, sometimes invoking all in the space of a single tune.

Much has been written about Iyer's academic background (he has a B.S. in Mathematics from Yale, a Masters in Physics and a Ph.D in Technology and the Arts from U.C. Berkeley) and how it informs his intricate writing. Despite their complexity, Iyer's compositions never sound contrived or excessively cerebral. The four originals are demonstrative, incorporating dynamic shifts in tone, modulating time signatures, and interlocking counterpoint—yielding congenial three-way conversations that balance stunning virtuosity with emotional conviction.

A brave step forward for Iyer as an improviser and interpreter, Historicity is a vibrant and thrilling piano trio record by any measure.

Track Listing: Historicity; Somewhere; Galang (Trio Riot Version); Helix; Smoke Stack; Big Brother; Dogon A.D.; Mystic Brew (Trixation Version); Trident 2010; Segment For Sentiment #2.

Personnel: Vijay Iyer: piano; Stephan Crump: bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums.

Record Label: ACT Music

Style: Modern Jazz


comments powered by Disqus
Support All About Jazz Through Amazon

Weekly Giveaways

Mort Weiss

Mort Weiss

About | Enter

Rotem Sivan

Rotem Sivan

About | Enter

Michael Carvin

Michael Carvin

About | Enter

Steve Wilson/Lewis Nash

Steve Wilson/Lewis Nash

About | Enter

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.

A musician was found with a matching name

Name:

Birthday:

Instrument:

Is this you?