145

Vijay Iyer: Solo

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Vijay Iyer: Solo Pianist Vijay Iyer may be one of the great ones; only time will tell. The pianist has risen to become a critics' darling, mostly on the basis of his quartet outings, including the much-lauded Reimagining (Savoy Jazz, 2005) and Tragicomic (Sunnyside Records, 2008). He's worked a trio magic, to, -with his piano/saxophone/drums Fieldwork group, on the high intensity Your Life Flashes (Pi Recordings, 20002), Simulated Progress (Pi Recordings, 2005), and Door (Pi Recordings, 2008).

All of Iyer's recordings, pre-2009, have featured saxophonists: the innovative Rudresh Mahanthappa on the sets under his own name, and the equally-talented Aaron Stewart and Steve Lehman on the Fieldwork sets.

Iyer's Historicity (ACT Music, 2009)—a piano trio offering—and now Solo, indicate a paring down of the approach, and also a move into more non-original material, with marvelous results.

A good one-word description of Iyer's work, pre-Historicity would be "intense." The majority of his earlier offerings are full-speed-ahead, chip-on-the-shoulder, perhaps, with a tinge of anger—sounds that are looking to kick somebody's ass. The absence of the very aggressive saxophonists he employs seems to have injected some calm introspection into his artistry. He opens Solo with "Human Nature," the Michael Jackson hit that Miles Davis brought over to the jazz side. Iyer respects the beautiful melody, and gives it a restless quality.

The restlessness continues on Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy," a busy, clamorous rendition that leads into a tension-and-release of the American Songbook tune, "Darn That Dream." Iyer feels his way into the ruminative melody and adds dashes of Monk-like dissonance.

Iyer also proves himself a superb interpreter of Duke Ellington compositions. His take on "Black and Tan Fantasy" possesses a jaunty, devil-may-care, percussive strut. "Fleurette Africaine" drifts deep into a somber mood that suggests a fitful struggle in its more percussive sections.

Iyer's own compositions often have an inward, very personal quality to them. "Autoscopy" is a turbulent, bristling disturbance, with flashes of unfettered Cecil Taylor-like freedom before Iyer settles the sound into a soothing groove that he alternates with segments of high tension.

"Patterns" begins with a moment of peaceful reflection that builds to Iyer-esque, hard-charging intensity, while "Desiring" glows with an especially lovely and wistful mood of unrequited want.

By 2008, Vijay Iyer's work gave the feeling of an artist having reached a plateau, with a sense of sameness from one disc to the next. Now the pianist's vision expands. After the superb Historicity, the expectations for Iyer were high; with Solo, he has exceeded them .


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.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: ACT Music


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Closer To The Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Closer To The Sun
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 10, 2016
Read "Known-Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Neuroplastic Groove" CD/LP/Track Review Neuroplastic Groove
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: August 18, 2016
Read "Live In The South Bronx" CD/LP/Track Review Live In The South Bronx
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "Janus" CD/LP/Track Review Janus
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 1, 2016
Read "A Matter Of Instinct" CD/LP/Track Review A Matter Of Instinct
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 20, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

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!

Buy it!