Reviews that mention Vijay Iyer

September 11, 2014

Pete Robbins

Hate Laugh Music 003 pet

Jean Derome et Lé Quan Ninh


Tour de Bras TDB 9004cd

Fred Van Hove/Damon Smith/Peter Jacquemyn

Burns Longer

Balance Point Acoustics BPA2

Sun Ra Arkestra

Live in Ulm 1992

Golden Years of Jazz GY 30/31

Kidd Jordan/Alvin Fielder/Peter Kowald

Trio and Duo in New Orleans

NoBusiness Records NBCD 64/65

Something In The Air: Guelph Jazz Festival Reaches A New Maturity

May 14, 2014

Vijay Iyer

ECM CD 2372

Uri Caine Ensemble

Rhapsody in Blue

Winter & Winter 910.905-2

Théo Ceccaldi Trio +1

Can You Smile?

Ayler Records AYLCD 136

Vijay Iyer


ECM CD 2372

Nils Wogram & Root 70 with strings


Wog Records 007

Something In The Air: Innovative Writing for Strings and Improvisers

By Ken Waxman

As genres draw closer to one another, the idea of a musician from one area playing and composing a work in another area doesn’t seem so far-fetched. More importantly the sophistication of many contemporary performers means that these inter-genre excursions are triumphant rather than merely passable. One form that is being explored by improvised musicians for instance is composing for the bedrock of the so-called classical music tradition: string groupings. MORE

May 6, 2012

Vijay Iyer Trio

ACT Music +Video ACT 9524-2

By Ken Waxman

Perceptive enough to realize that an improvising musician must constantly change, pianist Vijay Iyer has experimented with several combo formats and choice of material during his recording career. Accelerando, his 16th CD, thus eschews outright experimentation or nods to his South Asian heritage to concentrate on the story-telling available from carefully selected tunes played in classic piano trio format.

Although the configuration, with bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, may be classic, the program isn’t. Iyer shows his taste by including under-recorded pieces by jazz masters, Duke Ellington’s “The Village of The Virgins”, Herbie Nichols’ “Wildflower” and a miniaturization of Henry Threadgill’s “Little Pocket Size Demons”, five originals, plus pop tunes associated with Heatwave, Flying Lotus and most saliently Michael Jackson. MORE

January 10, 2012

Carlo De Rosa’s Cross-Fade

Brain Dance
Cuneiform Rune 317

Eastern Boundary Quartet


Konnex KCD 5258

Ivo Perelman Quartet

The Hour of the Star

Leo Records CD LR 605

Of all the formations that have characterized improvisation at least since the Bop era, the most common has been that of one reed player along with piano, bass and drums. Just because it’s unexceptional doesn’t mean every session has to be identical however, especially if the meeting ground is original compositions. As these quartet discs demonstrate, plenty of variations are available, even if the form prods participants towards a mainstream orientation. MORE

May 27, 2010

Wadada Leo Smith

Spiritual Dimensions
Cuneiform Rune 290/291

During a career that stretches from the mid-1960s, Mississippi-born trumpeter and educator Wadada Leo Smith has never followed one path. A founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM), Smith – who excelled at playing acoustic music with stylists such as reedist Anthony Braxton and drummer Günter Baby Sommer, has also become comfortable with electric instruments, most notably in the Yo Miles! project with guitarist Henry Kaiser.

However while accepting the strictures affiliated with thicker beats and electricity Smith also doesn’t kowtow to any accepted formula. Plugged-in wave forms are used in his compositions and performances exactly in the same fashion as acoustic timbres. Take this impressive two-CD set as an example. On the first disc, the percussion input is doubled, making what formerly was a Golden quartet a quintet; while on disc two, with the Organic ensemble, the string section includes not only bass, electric bass and cello, but also features at least three and sometimes four electric guitarists. MORE

October 8, 2008

Variations on a Theme

Guelph Jazz Festival Musicians On Their Own
Extended Play

Barry Guy/Mats Gustafsson/Raymond Strid


Maya MCD0801

Junk Box

Cloudy Then Sunny

Libra Records 203-019

John Zorn

News For Lulu

hatOLOGY 650

Matana Roberts

The Chicago Project

Central Control CC1006PR

Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet


Cuneiform Rune 270

AMMÜ Quartet

AMMÜ Quartet

January 23, 2006


Savoy Jazz SVY 475

Simulated Progress
Pi Recordings PI 16

Keeping a whole hand firmly in post-bop contemporary jazz, a couple of fingers in more atonal pursuits as well as a couple more in the sounds of his South Asian heritage, New York’s Vijay Iyer is the very epitome of the modern mainstream pianist.

Self-possessed and unflappable, these CDs – recorded two months apart – reveal two Vijay Iyers. On REIMAGINING, the newest disc by his own band, he appears controlled and buttoned-down, as unhurried a stylist as Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan were in the 1950s and 1960s and possessing what (acoustic) Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock exhibited in the 1960s and 1970s. Yet as part of the cooperative Fieldwork trio on SIMULATED PROGRESS, he reveals a hitherto rough-hewn edge, laying into the keys with the heavy touch of a McCoy Tyner or a Cooper-Moore. Is the switcheroo part and parcel of the company he keeps? MORE

April 25, 2005


Mother Tongue
Pi Recordings PI 14

Animul ANI 104

Two variations on South-Asian musical culture point out not only its wealth, but also how it too can grow and change far beyond the somewhat arbitrary divisions between Carnatic and Hindustani sounds.

Notwithstanding HARBINGER’s use of a tabla, and that two of the musicians on MOTHER TONGUE are Indian-American, neither date has much to do with the traditional sounds of the subcontinent, nor depends on Eastern exoticism for its shape. Instead, separately, each is an example of individual intermingling of traditions with modern improvised music. MORE

August 16, 2004


Blood Sutra
Artists House AH 09

Dance, My Dear?
DATA 042

What a different a decade makes.

GenX pianist/composer Michiel Scheen and GenY pianist/composer Vijay Iyer have an almost diametrically opposed program of how to organize a standard saxophone and rhythm date. Many of the differences can be attributed to the fact that Amsterdam’s Scheen is in his early forties, while Iyer is merely grazing thirty.

Veteran of ensembles led by bassist Maarten Altena, violinist Ig Henneman and a playing partner of local and international musicians, Scheen brings a hard and heavy beat and a POMO cut-and-paste outlook to his nine compositions. With the CD listed as being by his quartet, as opposed to the other with Iyer’s name above the title, he also gives full range to his associates, all of whom are members of the Netherlands’ improv lab, the ICP Orchestra. They are steady bassist Ernst Glerum, freeform reedist Ab Baars and splashy drummer Han Bennink. MORE

January 22, 2003


Your Life Flashes
Pi Recordings PI 05

Black Water
Red Giant RG 012

Sooner or later, with CD retailers subdividing even jazz and improvised music into smaller and smaller segments -- Afro Cuban, Asian improv, Jewish Alternative Movement, to mention three -- someone is bound to notice that two of the major soloists on these two discs have a South Asian background. But the quality playing and writing of alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa on BLACK WATER, and of pianist Vijay Iyer on both CDs, is much more responsible for the sessions’ universal appeal than their shared ancestry from the Indian subcontinent. MORE

September 9, 2002


Song for My Sister
PI Recordings 103

Avant garde jazz fans who remember the 1960s and 1970s have the tendency to come on like moldy figs when they compare the activities of many highly celebrated younger players with the accomplishments of their elders.

Case in point is this CD. For while a few youngsters have been over-praised for merely mastering the intricacies of a particular jazz style -- be it hard bop, modal or even a hip hop take on the New Thing -- reedist Roscoe Mitchell, 62, showcases a lot more.

Mitchell, who plays soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, flute, bass recorder, great bass recorder and percussion on this disc, has also written a set of unmistakably modern tunes that touch on playful R&B, precise swing, Third World anthems, jagged contemporary composition and even Early music. Assisted by eight young and veteran improvisers -- and four more for the “classical” piece -- Mitchell easily slides from one stance and style to another without ever losing his identity or resorting to tonal impersonation. MORE

April 12, 2002


Jazz in Motion JIM 75086

Panoptic Modes
Red Giant RG011

Practically a jazz cliché, the sax and rhythm quartet has been a staple of the music since the late 1940s and early 1950s, when it became the favored compact configuration for modernists to tour from town to town.

Since that time every major improviser, definitely including such iconoclastic figures as John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and, surprisingly, even Anthony Braxton, David Murray and Evan Parker has played and recorded in that formation from time to time. So the challenge facing someone is how best to adjust the quartet setting to his or her own ends. MORE