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Vijay Iyer: Panoptic Modes

Jim Santella By

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What a combination. Vijay Iyer's music contains the adventurousness and dramatic tension that you'd expect from avant-garde jazz; as well as a light, rhythmic swing, for those of us who live in the mainstream. His third album is accessible to one and all. They're his originals, and they're interpreted by a stellar quartet. By limiting the ensemble to four members, Iyer ensures that each voice can be understood by the listener. Traditional Indian scales, changing meters, and romantic elements from the classical library each contribute. An empathetic quartet interprets each piece in its proper spirit. Iyer explains his motive for each composition in detail at the label's web site .

The leader's piano takes on a swirling appearance that emphasizes changes in harmony and rhythm. Deep bass tones from the piano and a steady rhythmic pulse from the bassist combine for a solid foundation. Derrek Phillips' drum kit gets a workout from every corner of its configuration. After all, a large variety of percussion textures are required to express what Iyer has laid out. The cornerstone of the ensemble is Rudresh Mahanthappa, with his agile alto saxophone technique. Light and buoyant, his tone reflects the nature of a music that is designed to communicate significant meaning. And the music does. "Invocation," the first track from this recommended album, is available from start to finish through www.vijay-iyer.com .


Track Listing: Invocation; Configurations; One Thousand and One; History is Alive; Father Spirit; Atlantean Tropes; Numbers (for Mumia); Trident: 2001; Circular Argument; Invariants; Mountains.

Personnel: Vijay Iyer- piano; Stephan Crump- acoustic bass; Derrek Phillips- drums; Rudresh Mahanthappa- alto saxophone.

Title: Panoptic Modes | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Red Giant Records

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