24

Vijay Iyer Sextet: Far From Over

Mark Sullivan By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist/composer Vijay Iyer has employed different instrumental forces for each of his ECM albums. Most recently, A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (2016) was a duet with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, while Break Stuff (2015) featured his long standing trio with bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore. For his fifth ECM date as a leader he has expanded to a sextet. The rhythm section includes Crump and drummer Tyshawn Sorey, who has long subbed for Gilmore in the trio, as well as working with Iyer on other projects. The three horn players—Graham Haynes (cornet, flugelhorn and electronics), Steve Lehman (alto saxophone), and Mark Shim (tenor saxophone)—are among Iyer's favorite musicians.

The larger line-up gives Iyer a broad palette of ensemble textures and timbres to work with. "Poles" begins the set with a bit of a tease: an unaccompanied piano introduction. The rest of the trio joins in, then finally the horns. Their jerky rhythm breaks apart into overlapping lines, then back together—followed by Shim's tenor solo. Iyer switches to Rhodes electric piano for Haynes' flugelhorn solo (recalling trumpeter Miles Davis' fusion period), and the piece winds down in that mode. It's almost a microcosm of the stylistic and timbral range of the entire album.

The title tune features all three horns trading short solos before coming together for an exuberant collective conversation, setting up the leader's solo. After doing some riffing behind the piano, the horns execute what sounds like an elaborate composed passage, eventually going out on the theme. Once again a rich blend of individual and collective playing. "Nope" changes things up again with its deliberate funk. Iyer switches from Rhodes to acoustic piano for his angular solo, which made me think about how pianist Thelonious Monk might have played funk.

Haynes' electronics are heavily featured on two tracks: "End Of The Tunnel" and "Wake," both of them atmospheric contrasts with the denser, more active sound of the sextet tracks. "For Amiri Baraka" is another contrast, a contemplative portrait for the trio only. "Down To The Wire" is also a trio track for most of the first half: but then the horns solo, followed by the drums, finally coming together at the end. The driving rhythm of "Good On The Ground" makes it sound like the album closer (it also features a second drum solo). But it ends on an elegiac note with "Threnody," this time with the horns in full cry.

Far From Over is a splendid showcase for Iyer as pianist and composer, and there is plenty of space for the other sextet members to shine as well. A fine addition to his discography, and an excellent place for new listeners to start.

Track Listing: Poles; Far from Over; Nope; End of the Tunnel; Down to the Wire; For Amiri Baraka; Into Action; Wake; Good on the Ground; Threnody.

Personnel: Vijay Iyer: piano, Fender Rhodes; Graham Haynes: cornet, flugelhorn, electronics; Steve Lehman: alto saxophone; Mark Shim: tenor saxophone; Stephan Crump: double-bass; Tyshawn Sorey: drums.

Title: Far from Over | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: ECM Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Elusive CD/LP/Track Review Elusive
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Transitions CD/LP/Track Review Transitions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Door Girl CD/LP/Track Review Door Girl
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Incidentals CD/LP/Track Review Incidentals
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Heart Knows CD/LP/Track Review Heart Knows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Jersey CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 22, 2017
Read "One" CD/LP/Track Review One
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "Alfa" CD/LP/Track Review Alfa
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 10, 2017
Read "Looking Forward" CD/LP/Track Review Looking Forward
by Geannine Reid
Published: September 6, 2017
Read "Bach: Solo Works for Marimba" CD/LP/Track Review Bach: Solo Works for Marimba
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "Aram Bajakian's Dolphy Formations" CD/LP/Track Review Aram Bajakian's Dolphy Formations
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 28, 2016
Read "Lantern" CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.