290

Vijay Iyer: Solo

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Vijay Iyer: Solo Pianist Vijay Iyer's Historicity (ACT Music, 2009) was among the spellbinders of its year, a 10 track trio album, one half originals, one half covers. Solo makes a return visit to the same playground, its 11 tracks comprising five originals and six covers of tunes written by Duke Ellington ("Black & Tan Fantasy," "La Fleurette Africaine"), Thelonious Monk ("Epistrophy"), Jimmy Van Heusen ("Darn That Dream"), Steve Coleman ("Games") and Steve Porcaro/John Bettis ("Human Nature," for the singer Michael Jackson).

This time out, freed up to romp alone in his own pianism, Iyer has made a disc which is, marginally, even more compelling than its predecessor. The difference is most apparent in the covers, where Iyer dives deep to find new twists and turns and harmonic surprises; all of them, however radical, sounding ineffably right, all of them glistening with a sense of revealed mystery.

"Darn That Dream" and "Black & Tan Fantasy" are both played relatively straight, the first pretty, the second knowingly anachronistic in its stride piano references and rather stiff beat (Ellington wrote the tune, with trumpeter Bubber Miley, in 1927). On "Epistrophy," Iyer takes a more teasing route, only fully unfolding the melody during the last 30 seconds or so. "La Fleurette Africaine," from Ellington's trio set with bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach, Money Jungle (Blue Note, 1962), at 7:56 minutes one of the longer tracks, is another discursive exposition. "Human Nature" is similarly short on verbatim quotation; Iyer, who has been including the tune in his set list since Jackson's death in 2009, first encountered it as an 11 year old, and has had plenty of time to find its hidden corners. (Is it cheap to suggest that Iyer was fortunate, perhaps, not to encounter "Human Nature" as an 11 year old on a sleepover at the King of Pop's house? Maybe, perhaps).

The originals include "One For Blount," a swinging, bluesy homage to pianist Sun Ra (aka Herman Blount), which closes the album, appropriately, with one foot in the past and the other in the present. The originals which precede it are more typically Iyeristic. Standouts are "Autoscopy," which, after a note-packed introductory section with echoes of Cecil Taylor, becomes an exercise in voluptuous lyricism, and "Patterns," 8:29 minutes of fierce free association driven by a reiterated, mesmerizing, little rhythmo-melodic motif. Magic, from start to finish.

Track Listing: Human Nature; Epistrophy; Darn That Dream; Black & Tan Fantasy; Prelude: Heartpiece; Autoscopy; Patterns; Desiring; Games; Fleurette Africaine; One For Blount.

Personnel: Vijay Iyer: piano.

Title: Solo | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: ACT Music


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Second Act CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Imaga Mondo CD/LP/Track Review Imaga Mondo
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Port Of Call CD/LP/Track Review Port Of Call
by John Sharpe
Published: August 23, 2017
Read May I Introduce To You CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "Source" CD/LP/Track Review Source
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: August 25, 2016
Read "Some Great Songs Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review Some Great Songs Vol. 2
by Budd Kopman
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "Algorithmic Society" CD/LP/Track Review Algorithmic Society
by Jim Trageser
Published: October 23, 2016
Read "Guitar Fantasies" CD/LP/Track Review Guitar Fantasies
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: November 2, 2016
Read "Celestial Blues: Cosmic, Political and Spiritual Jazz 1970 to 1974" CD/LP/Track Review Celestial Blues: Cosmic, Political and Spiritual Jazz 1970...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 4, 2016
Read "Seven Secrets" CD/LP/Track Review Seven Secrets
by John Kelman
Published: May 26, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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