Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn: The Transitory Poems

Mike Jurkovic By

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Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn: The Transitory Poems
Perhaps curiously or perhaps purposely for these two inspired alumni of Roscoe Mitchell's Note Factory, The Transitory Poems enters existence with the anticipatory, lets-get-acquainted improvisation "Life Line (Seven Tensions)," before each pianist's creative wanderlust and imagination takes hold and the music becomes a ranging, raging real-time white-hot collaborative statement.

Recorded live at the Franz List Academy of Music in Budapest in March 2018, the first collaborative release from Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn finds two of jazz's most adventurous thinkers not only revisiting their shared history but displaying to each other and their captivated audience how far each has traveled since. Both have become restless originators, Iyer's music absorbing break beats, hip hop, the economics of film-scoring as well as his inventive, multi-lingual use of world musics. Taborn, with his focused polyrhythmics, tech savvy, and melodic intuitiveness, moves from serene to unsettled in a moment's breath.

Both players attest to hearing The Transitory Poems as a series of homages to the masters who have influenced them and indeed, when the album hits its majestic stride, spirits do swirl and there's no going back. Cecil Taylor especially hovers over-all. "Kairos," the third of eight Iyer-Taborn improvised compositions is the launch point. Beginning with a tentative whisper as Taylor was want to do, the track moves to a forceful cascade of fluid and percussive runs, building to an expectant crescendo, only to disappear into the decidedly disturbed quiet of "S.H.A.R.D.S." In tribute to Muhal Richard Abrams, innovative co-founder of Chicago's legendary Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, the duo instantaneously concocts the ravishingly concussive "Clear Monolith" and we're left wondering how. How do some brains work that fast and conclusively?

"Luminous Brew" continues the Taylor tribute, its rumbling, visceral foreboding giving way to a jagged, though beautiful solace. After a free flurry of frenzied improvisation, the late Geri Allen's singature "When Kabuya Dances" brings "Meshwork/Libation/When Kabuya Dances," and The Transitory Poems to a peaceful close. The music, like a passing breeze, fading to applause.

Track Listing

Life Line (seven tensions); Sensorium; Kairos; S.H.A.R.D.S.; Shakedown; Clear Monolith; Luminous Brew; Meshwork_Libation (When Kabuka Dances).


Vijay Iyer: piano; Craig Taborn: piano.

Album information

Title: The Transitory Poems | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: ECM Records

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