Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vijay Iyer Trio - Historicity (ACT Music, 2009)

Pianist and composer Vijay Iyer has been getting much well deserved publicity for this new trio album, where he explores a wide range of compositions by various musicians and a few originals as well. He is joined on this album by Stephen Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. With everyone contributing structural information, the group acts much more as an organic unit than soloist with accompaniment. This is an excellent album with wonderful interplay amongst the full trio, everybody plays with a very percussive nature that keeps the music moving swiftly, and gives it a wonderfully dynamic feel. Iyer was quoted in the New York Times talking about the about the "disruptive" quality of the music, but it is more questing than subversive. They simply refuse to play it safe, even in a popular standard like "Somewhere" where the Crump gets an excellent solo interlude. "Historicity" opens fast and percussive, with a deep full bodied piano sound. Other highlights are the astonishing MIA cover "Galang (Trio Riot Version)" which is a breathless wash of layered piano, bass and drums. Very nice versions of Andrew Hill's "Smoke Stack" and Julius Hemphill's "Dogon AD" are complex yet fascinating. Science and mathematics are concurrent interests of his and these interpretations can be knotty, but it never overwhelms the music. The moody quasi-ballad "Segment for Sentiment" is spare and brings the music to a pointed finish. Like Heraclitus famous quote "You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you," Iyer writes in the liner notes (scroll down to the comments to read them) about "being placed in the stream of history" and it is interesting to see the breadth of stream the trio has chosen to place itself in. The stream of music is ever flowing, and this trio has made a wonderful contribution to the current with this album.
Historicity -

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