Vijay Iyer inhabits a musical universe like no other. Juxtaposing deceptively familiar jazz structures with scales and modes more intimate with Indian and classical musics, Iyer has successfully reinvented jazz syntax while remaining unmistakably a jazz artist.
He illuminates his reimaginings with a vicious virtuosity usually corroborated by the equally remarkable Rudresh Mahanthappa on saxophone. Mahanthappa's solos rocket out of nowhere to blaze across Iyer's compositions. Stephan Crump rejoins the quartet on bass, in between duties with Liberty Ellman, Jen Chapin, and Joel Harrison's Free Country. Drummer Marcus Gilmore seems poised to inherit the family business from grandpa Roy Haynes, already chalking up more major awards than years alive. A veteran of Steve Coleman, Ravi Coltrane, and Branford Marsalis, among others, Gillmore looks to finish his senior year at LaGuardia High School of Music, Art, and Performing Arts in New York City.
Iyer's swirling chords open the appropriately named "Revolutions. Mahanthappa states the labyrinthine theme as Gilmore percolates, light and busy. Iyer's solos fluidly through the complexity, with Crump keeping it solid and simple. Mahanthappa leaps in like a pinball in a hurricane. "Inertia slows the pace to ponderous for a dramatic saxless trio. A mid-tempo excursion dominated by minors, "Song for Midwood gives Crump a lyrical break, while Mahanthappa runs with it.
Unusual time and a spare melody form the launching pad for the interactive fireworks on Infogee's Cakewalk. Everyone plays it cool, except for Mahanthappa, who bubbles with ideas. A sensual yearning permeates "The Big Almost, while Iyer gets his heart pumping on the trio workout "Cardio. Also a trio, "Composites ebbs and flows through tempo changes, unlike "Phalanx, which blows hot and heavy from start to finish. Iyer finishes the set with a lovely little solo miniature, "Imagine.
Utilizing unique time signatures and a personal harmonic vision that indelibly identifies his work, Iyer continues to create music of intricate beauty that seems intent on infusing new life into the jazz mainstream.
1. Revolutions 2. Inertia 3. Song For Midwood 4. Infogee's Cakewalk 5. The Big Almost 6. Cardio 7. Experience 8. Composites 9. Phalanx 10. Imagine
Vijay Iyer: piano; Rudresh Mahanthappa: alto saxophone; Stephan Crump: bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums
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