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...

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

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Date Detail Price
Jan9Wed
7:00 pm
Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey
Amsterdam Bar And Hall
Saint Paul, MN
Jan22Tue
7:30 pm
Vijay Iyer
Jazz Standard
New York, NY
Jan22Tue
9:30 pm
Vijay Iyer
Jazz Standard
New York, NY
Jan23Wed
9:30 pm
Vijay Iyer
Jazz Standard
New York, NY
Jan23Wed
7:30 pm
Vijay Iyer
Jazz Standard
New York, NY
Jan24Thu
9:30 pm
Vijay Iyer
Jazz Standard
New York, NY
Jan24Thu
7:30 pm
Vijay Iyer
Jazz Standard
New York, NY

Related Articles

Read Without You CD/LP/Track Review
Without You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Internal Combustion CD/LP/Track Review
Internal Combustion
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Chant Triptych II CD/LP/Track Review
Chant Triptych II
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Oasis CD/LP/Track Review
Oasis
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Les Oiseaux de Matisse CD/LP/Track Review
Les Oiseaux de Matisse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Drum Solos For Dancers Only CD/LP/Track Review
Drum Solos For Dancers Only
by David A. Orthmann
Published: December 18, 2018
Read "Change In The Air" CD/LP/Track Review Change In The Air
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 15, 2018
Read "Marfa Loops Shouts and Hollers" CD/LP/Track Review Marfa Loops Shouts and Hollers
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 28, 2018
Read "Love From The Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Love From The Sun
by Chris May
Published: June 17, 2018
Read "Anti-Anxiety" CD/LP/Track Review Anti-Anxiety
by John Bricker
Published: September 7, 2018
Read "Chants To The Sea - The Corium project" CD/LP/Track Review Chants To The Sea - The Corium project
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 30, 2018
Read "Ornettiquette" CD/LP/Track Review Ornettiquette
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 18, 2018