Sunday, March 25, 2012

Vijay Iyer - Accelerando (ACT, 2012)

Pianist and composer Vijay Iyer has been getting some much well deserved attention for this new trio album, where he explores a wide range of compositions by various musicians and a few originals as well. Iyer is fast becoming one of the leading composers and song interpreters on the contemporary jazz scene. He has been re-examining music of other composers, from pop to jazz and in the course of that research been developing deep and abiding rhythmic sensibility. He is joined on this album by Stephen Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. With everyone contributing structural information, the group acts more as an organic unit than soloist with accompaniment. The music that they combine to make is deeply rhythmic and often complex while remaining enjoyable and accessible. Piano, bass and percussion bubble and fade sometimes leading, sometimes following, but always interacting in new and interesting ways. This is an excellent album with wonderful interplay amongst the full trio, where everybody plays with a very percussive nature that keeps the music moving swiftly, and gives it a wonderfully dynamic feel. They take a wide ranging view of modern music by playing potent Iyer originals along with compositions by great jazz composers and interpretations of popular songs. Absorbing and infectious, this is jazz about not only the mind but the body. Iyer's fascinating version of Henry Threadgill's "Little Pocket-Sized Demons" is one of the key tracks to the album, rearranging Threadgill's tricky music for trio and revealing in the fun and danceability of the original. The late period Ellington performance "The Village of the Virgins" comes from a play that was written y the great composer and has a stirring soulful narrative quality. An epic version of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" allows the trio to use all of the colors available to them in showing that modern pop is just as viable source material for modern jazz as Tin Pan Alley songs and show tunes were to previous generations of musicians. Iyer's own "Accelerando" and "Mmmhmmm" by the electronic artist Flying Lotus demonstrate the power of rhythm in the group's music. Using a repeated patterns of movement and sound, the systematic arrangement of musical data creates a powerful forward motion. The continuous current of music is ever flowing, and this trio has made a wonderful contribution to the modern music scene with this album. Anyone interested in hearing clues to the future development of jazz would do well to listen to the fine music on this album. Accelerando -

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