302

Fieldwork: Door

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Fieldwork: Door
In the three years since their sophomore recording, Simulated Progress (Pi Recordings, 2005), the collective trio Fieldwork has expanded its scope beyond sophisticated M-Base funk to delve into more expansive territory on Door. Comprised of pianist Vijay Iyer, saxophonist Steve Lehman and drummer Tyshaw Sorey, Fieldwork operates as a true cooperative, offering a model of balanced collective improvisation and advanced compositional strategies that eschews ego for the sake of the group dynamic.

Iyer is one of the most innovative and forward-thinking pianists of his generation, exemplified by his multi-media collaborations with hip-hop poet Mike Ladd and work with Steve Coleman, Roscoe Mitchell and Wadada Leo Smith. Lehman has studied with Anthony Braxton and recorded with Meshell Ndegeocello, resulting in an aesthetic that seamlessly melds the cerebral to the primal.

The youngest and newest member, Tyshawn Sorey is a sideman (Steve Coleman, Dave Douglas) renowned for his phenomenal dexterity. His audacious debut as a composer, the double album That/Not (Firehouse 12, 2007), confounded expectations by avoiding the churning polyrhythmic funk of the M-Base school in favor of the austere minimalism associated with Morton Feldman. He is also this session's primary composer, contributing six of eleven pieces.

One of Sorey's more animated numbers, "Of" opens the album with escalating turbulence, while his melancholy contributions ("Bend," "Cycle I," "Cycle II") bring an introspective air to the session. Somber and reserved, Sorey's writing offers a languid respite to the trio's irrepressible energy, as he downplays his own role in favor of atmospheric restraint. "Bend" encapsulates myriad emotions, ascending from tender balladry to cathartic release as Lehman elicits guttural multiphonics that peak in keening cries, while Iyer systematically builds climactic arpeggios over Sorey's intensifying rubato pulse.

Sorey's egoless contributions vary from pointillist shading to roiling ardor. At his most visceral, he vacillates between extremes of velocity. On the rambunctious "Pivot Point" his swirling palpitations spur Lehman into fervent gnarled salvos. "Rai" closes the album with Sorey stuttering staccato phrases that fuel Lehman's oblique tendrils and Iyer's abstruse cadences.

Eschewing the histrionic conventions of free jazz, the trio channels its explosive tendencies into tightly wound expressionistic coils. Iyer's elegant touch and euphonious melodic fragments bring soulfulness to the starkest passages, while Lehman's serpentine cadences unravel into acerbic shards. Avoiding formlessness, the trio frames its high-wire balancing act with tempo displacement, angular counterpoint and polytonal harmonies that coalesce into tightly unified ensemble interplay.

Meticulous by design, Fieldwork's intricate methodology occasionally invokes criticisms similar to those that plagued Anthony Braxton three decades ago. But true innovation never comes without a price, as the group moves well beyond its comfort zone, exploring previously untapped sound worlds.

A truly singular post-modern hybrid that draws equally from M-Base rhythms, Braxtonian structural theory and stark minimalism, Door is the formidable trio's most expansive and challenging recording to date.

Track Listing

Of; After Meaning; Less; Balanced; Bend; Cycle I; Pivot Point; Pivot Point Redux; Ghost Time; Cycle II; Rai.

Personnel

Vijay Iyer: piano; Steve Lehman: alto saxophone; Tyshawn Sorey: drums.

Album information

Title: Door | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Pi Recordings

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read The Rise Up
The Rise Up
Mehmet Ali Sanlikol
Read New York Moment
New York Moment
JC Hopkins Biggish Band
Read Pollinator
Pollinator
Matt Ulery
Read Hug!
Hug!
Matt Wilson Quartet
Read Touch & Go
Touch & Go
Susan Tobocman
Read The Ilkley Suite
The Ilkley Suite
Jamil Sheriff
Read Moving Through Worlds
Moving Through Worlds
Fiona Joy Hawkins

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.