Vijay Iyer: Uneasy

Scott Gudell By

Sign in to view read count
Vijay Iyer: Uneasy
When Vijay Iyer signed to ECM Records in 2013, he joined a prestigious group of world-class musicians (including fellow pianist Keith Jarrett). With Uneasy, Iyer returns to familiar territory by leading a combo of bass, drums and piano. This album's trio can intuitively improvise and, with the revered pianist-composer at the helm, the music they present is intricate, complex and, at times, enticingly sparse.

Longtime Iyer bassist Stephen Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore sit this one out. As the album opens, Iyer's piano is delicate and cautious as the Uneasy trio sneaks up on us with "Children of Flint." Linda May Han Oh's inquisitive bass quickly follows Iyer while Tyshawn Sorey's understated drums are elusive and allow Iyer time to blossom, and space to explore. On "Combat Breathing," one of several songs nearly ten-minutes long, Iyer begins cautiously and soon showers listeners with a myriad of notes while Sorey's drums snap and snarl. As Iyer has indicated in interviews, the two pieces are reminders to everyone to be aware of the spiky challenges that surround us, including the poison in the Michigan waters and the debilitating divide of race conflicts. The enticing theme of Cole Porter's "Night and Day" is presented next but, after about three familiar minutes, the trio wanders off in search of new sounds and sensations. That is followed by a tribute to the late pianist Geri Allen, an early supporter of Iyer's, and then a shimmering solo piece, "Augury," (in short, an omen) offers an oasis at the album's mid-point. At just three-and-a-half-minutes, it is the collection's shortest offering.

As the album progresses, the listener is presented with swift, deft pianistic explorations via "Configurations," and then Iyer and company are on the prowl with "Uneasy." These are two more of the three extended pieces, and all are creative aural labyrinths. After a opening cascade of music, the final cut eases towards silence with a hymn-like closer. Listeners will most likely be suspended for a moment as they absorb the fading notes. Uneasy is another Iyer chapter that rewards repeated listening and, with Sorey having been awarded a prestigious MacArthur fellowship in 2017 (as bestowed on Iyer in 2013) this new trio may just be bordering on jazz supergroup status.

Track Listing

Children of Flint; Combat Breathing; Night and Day; Touba; Drummer's Song; Augury; Configurations; Uneasy; Retrofit; Entrustment.


Vijay Iyer: piano; Linda May Han Oh: bass; Tyshawn Sorey: drums.

Album information

Title: Uneasy | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: ECM Records

Post a comment about this album


Shop Amazon


Irene Schweizer / Hamid Drake
Zurich Jazz Orchestra & Steffen Schorn
Conversation #1: Condensed
Arbenz, Mehari, Veras
Lifting The Bandstand
Cecil Taylor Quintet
Suomi Morishita
The Elements
Madre Vaca
Winter Garden
Flow Trio with Joe McPhee


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.