Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Vijay Iyer - Uneasy (ECM Records, 2021)

This is the first album by pianist and composer Vijay Iyer's new trio with Linda May Han Oh on bass and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, the three having originally met at the Banff International  Workshop in Canada. They were able to come together in New York City in December of 2019 to make this record or primarily original compositions. The interplay between the musicians is continuously fascinating, where Linda May Han Oh may be more associated with mainstream jazz and Tyshawn Sorey with avant-guard jazz and classical composition, but it is Iyer's complex yet open minded composition that gives room for the three musicians to mesh very well, allowing for the development of both intricate structure and wide ranging improvisation. Iyer's compositional themes reflect the state of the world in 2020 ruminating on the pandemic, political instability, and the general malaise of the time. But the performances of the music and the development of the compositions among the three musicians is anything but depressing, sounding vital and urgent. Iyer spools out lengthy labyrinthine piano explorations over elastic ever changing bass and drum playing, building to flexible, supple collective improvisations which retain the nature of each performance's theme but provide a lot of space for wide ranging and surprising exploration. This is a fairly long album, but it never seems that way, the music is developed and paced in a manner that suggests a narrative structure, or a journey that the listener is invited to embark upon along with the band, where the continuous current of music is ever flowing. This trio has made a fine contribution to the modern music scene with this album, which was engaging from start to finish, creating an enthralling and unpredictable soundscape that demands attention and rewards it generously. Uneasy - amazon.com

Send comments to Tim.