260

Vijay Iyer: Panoptic Modes

Joel Roberts By

Sign in to view read count
Although Vijay Iyer has a Ph.D. in music and cognitive science, his dazzling new CD, Panoptic Modes , shows the New York-based pianist more focused on spiritual concerns than purely intellectual ones.

Melding Vedic chant and South Indian rhythms with the more obvious influences of Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell, Iyer creates a unique and vibrant sound, but one that's highly accessible and solidly within the progressive end of the jazz spectrum. The most direct comparison that comes to mind is Randy Weston (high praise indeed) for his deeply spiritual bent, openness to diverse musical traditions and a strong indebtedness to Monk's piano and compositional technique. That debt to Monk is made clear in "Circular Argument," a trio piece dedicated to the bebop master.

Iyer's main foil is alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, whose lively improvisations lead the quartet into some dizzying stratospheres. Drummer Derrek Phillips and bassist Stephan Crump also do an outstanding job keeping this challenging music flowing.

Several of Iyer's 11 orginal pieces here are meditations on specific spiritual or political themes - like "Numbers" (for Mumia), dedicated to Mumia abu-Jamal, and "One Thousand and One," a plaintive tune offered as a "plea for peace." How the music and the messages relate is probably best explained by the artist himself - which he does, briefly, in the album's liner notes. Suffice it to say this is a young musician of serious intent and significant accomplishment whose interests extend far beyond the keyboard. It will be fascinating to see where his journey leads.


Title: Panoptic Modes | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Asian Improv Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "The Tenth Muse" CD/LP/Track Review The Tenth Muse
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: April 7, 2017
Read "Right Up On" CD/LP/Track Review Right Up On
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Jersey" CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 16, 2017
Read "Live at Barbes: Slavic Soul Party Plays Duke Ellington's Far East Suite" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Barbes: Slavic Soul Party Plays Duke...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "The Dreamer Is the Dream" CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Loneliness Road" CD/LP/Track Review Loneliness Road
by Doug Collette
Published: October 1, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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