Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

349

Vijay Iyer Trio: Historicity

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
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, Brad Mehldau, Jason Moran, and Matthew Shipp 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, 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's "Dogon A.D." and a typically abstruse rendition of Andrew Hill's "Smoke Stack"—to the pop mainstream—Ronnie Foster's spellbinding "Mystic Brew," Stevie Wonder's portentous "Big Brother," and M.I.A.'s fervent "Galang"—Iyer covers all bases. He even deconstructs Leonard Bernstein'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.

Title: Historicity | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: ACT Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Flux Reflux" CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Wrong Turns And Dead Ends" CD/LP/Track Review Wrong Turns And Dead Ends
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 13, 2017
Read "Viriditas" CD/LP/Track Review Viriditas
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Open Book" CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "g a b b r o" CD/LP/Track Review g a b b r o
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 5, 2017
Read "Hope Of Home" CD/LP/Track Review Hope Of Home
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 2, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!