Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

62

Vijay Iyer Trio: Break Stuff

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
From the time of his debut as a leader nearly twenty years ago on Architextures (Asian Improv Records, 1996), pianist and composer Vijay Iyer has been a great experimenter. The Albany, New York native successfully utilized duplicated patterns and phrasing in a variety of settings from solo piano to ensembles. Advanced as his earlier techniques were, Iyer has continued to move forward and challenge himself, incorporating and manipulating decades of learning as his career progresses. At a given time his influences can be artistic, political or ethnic (or all of the above) but they don't overshadow a distinct personal style. Iyer's earlier groups provided a stepping off point for notable talents such as drummer Tyshawn Sorey and saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, the latter being a strong element in many of Iyer's early successes.

With his long-standing trio-mates, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, Iyer has pulled from multiple references and time periods to create Break Stuff. It is an album of deceptive complexity where absorbing melodies can mask the intricate inner workings of the pieces. As an example, "Mystery Woman" is at times minimal; Iyer's cascading chords or Crump's deep, woody pulsations suddenly become lost as Gilmore accelerates the pace pulling the trio into a complicated maze and then leading them out again. John Coltrane's "Countdown"—with a great solo from Gilmore—features irregular pacing and varying themes in an overall challenging structure.

Within the twelve compositions that make up Break Stuff, there are a good number of pieces that exemplify Iyer's more lyrical side. A disconnected suite focusing on New York birds includes "Starlings," "Geese" and "Wrens" and features some striking individual work from the pianist. These pieces, however, are no less byzantine just below the surface, with "Geese," in particular, including some of the album's more dissonant playing. "Work" and "Hood" meld hard-bop elements with more progressive approaches, creating multiple layers of sound.

A Yale University graduate and Harvard professor, it seems inevitable that Iyer's music would reflect his academic pursuits, but it was more obvious with his earlier recordings. At times that could have a coldly mathematical effect on the music but of late Iyer has found a better balance between accessibility and theory. Mutations (ECM, 2014), his solo piano, electronics and strings recording, may have been the musical catharsis that led to Break Stuff—Iyer's best trio album to date.

Track Listing: Starlings; Chorale; Diptych; Hood; Work; Taking Flight; Blood Count; Break Stuff; Mystery Woman; Geese; Countdown; Wrens.

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

Title: Break Stuff | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Mar24Sun
Vijay Iyer And Craig Taborn
Tennessee Theatre
Knoxville, TN
$65
May7Tue
Vijay Iyer Sextet
Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
Davis, CA
$25
May10Fri
Vijay Iyer Sextet
Valley Performing Arts Center
Northridge, CA
$29 - 66
May11Sat
Vijay Iyer Sextet
Valley Performing Arts Center
Northridge, CA
$29 - 66

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Cuando Sea Necesario Album Reviews
Cuando Sea Necesario
By Dan McClenaghan
March 22, 2019
Read West 60th Album Reviews
West 60th
By Peter Hoetjes
March 22, 2019
Read In Between the Tumbling a Stillness Album Reviews
In Between the Tumbling a Stillness
By Mark Corroto
March 22, 2019
Read Arirang Fantasy Album Reviews
Arirang Fantasy
By John Sharpe
March 22, 2019
Read The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul Album Reviews
The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul
By Mike Jurkovic
March 22, 2019
Read Octopus Album Reviews
Octopus
By Jack Bowers
March 21, 2019
Read Pinch Point Album Reviews
Pinch Point
By Mark Corroto
March 21, 2019