Friday, June 20, 2008

Fieldwork - Door (Pi, 2008)

Fieldwork is a cooperative band made up of a rotating cast of some of the best players in modern experimental jazz. This edition of the group includes Vijay Iyer on piano, Steve Lehman on alto saxophone and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, and the trio produces dense, knotty improvisations that are complex but never overly stuffy or boring. The music retains its excitement despite being dark, ominous and complicated. There is a lot of mystery and pent up emotion in between the notes that keeps the music constantly engaging and interesting. The contrast between the dark, mahogany tones of Iyer's piano, which is studded with bass notes and chords and Lehman's acid tinged and biting alto drives the music into very exciting territory. The swirling performance "Pivot Point" rampages like a musical tiger through a thrilling jungle of drums by Sorey is electrifying as is the finale "Ra" which starts out with a mysterious melody before moving into a startlingly fresh improvised segment. Some of the slower tempoed performances (it's hard to think of them as "ballads") have a feeling akin to improvisational artwork - cubist paintings hung in a house full of mirrors, where nothing is as it seems. This is heady stuff from talented musicians, and the music is very exciting to listen to.

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