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.

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; Rudresh Mahanthappa - alto saxophone; Derrek Phillips - drums; Stephan Crump - bass.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Red Giant Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Dreamsville CD/LP/Track Review Dreamsville
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 26, 2017
Read April CD/LP/Track Review April
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Small World CD/LP/Track Review Small World
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 26, 2017
Read High Time CD/LP/Track Review High Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Rags And Roots CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "avantNOIR" CD/LP/Track Review avantNOIR
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Sunkissed" CD/LP/Track Review Sunkissed
by Jeff Winbush
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Apocalypse" CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Inspired" CD/LP/Track Review Inspired
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 4, 2016
Read "Live In New York" CD/LP/Track Review Live In New York
by John Sharpe
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "Natural Language" CD/LP/Track Review Natural Language
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 2, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!