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Trio 3 + Vijay Iyer: Wiring

John Sharpe By

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It really should be Trio 4 by now! For their previous four albums the threesome has added a pianist to the ranks, first Geri Allen, then Irene Schweizer, then Allen again, and lastly Jason Moran. Now on Wiring Vijay Iyer takes over the piano stool. You could argue that with their credentials saxophonist Oliver Lake (World Saxophone Quartet), bassist Reggie Workman (John Coltrane) and drummer Andrew Cyrille (Cecil Taylor) don't need assistance from anyone. But each guest subtly changes the dynamic, and Iyer's presence reboots the pointer on the inside/outside spectrum marginally towards the tradition.

As ever the writing credits are shared equally, supplemented by one collective improvisation and a cover of pianist Curtis Clark's lilting "Chiara." Lake's alto has lost none of its potency, as he claws his way through the registers or interleaves lyrical fragments with ferocious free outbursts. Workman provides sturdy underpinning bristling with gravitas, while Cyrille excels at both elegant tumult and an airy swing frequently demarcated almost entirely on his cymbals.

Iyer becomes an integral part of the outfit, whether stretching out simultaneously with the saxophonist, or comping energetically behind him. He contributes the bouyant supercharged opener "The Prowl," and also the three part "Suite for Trayvon (and Thousands More)," which moves from muscular swagger, via graceful unisons and jaunty tattoo, to a final "Adagio" which features funereal piano and a bittersweet alto melody. It also prompts a particularly fine solo from the pianist, which sees clusters of notes carefully pitched in the pockets of the churning rhythm.

Workman's choppy "Synapse II" begins with Lake's explosive saxophone snarl and continues into a feature for the reedman's darting alto. Iyer's introduction accentuates the blues dimension on the bassist's "Willow Song." By contrast "Rosmarie," a group invention for Intakt label cofounder Rosmarie Meier, is suitably open and expressive. Cyrille's nod to seminal drummer Art Blakey, "Tribute to Bu," comprises a talking drum extravaganza against which each member pitches themselves in turn. It closes another solid set from one of more superior bands on the current scene.

Track Listing: The Prowl; Synapse II; Willow Song; Shave; Rosmarie; Suite for Trayvon (and Thousands More): I. Slimm; II. Fallacies; III. Adagio; Wiring; Chiara; Tribute to Bu.

Personnel: Oliver Lake: alto saxophone; Vijay Iyer: piano; Reggie Workman: bass; Andrew Cyrille: drums.

Title: Wiring | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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