Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Vijay Iyer's SOLO: Brilliant Unadorned Jazz Piano
But Vijay Iyer is not about to copy someone else—I should have known that.
my PopMatters review is up today), Iyer turns "Human Nature" into an utterly original thing: a highly patterned exercise that reinvents the tune without ruining its charms. And he manages the same magic with Monk's "Epistrophy" and a couple of Ellington tunes. At the same time, he offers a program of original compositions that move with a thrilling wheel-within-a-wheel action—swirls of patterns and flurries, sometimes sounding atonal like Cecil Taylor but other times have the beautiful repetitions of Steve Reich. It's an utterly original jazz piano conception.
But, thrillingly, it has roots too. Iyer plays a tune by his old boss, saxophonist Steve Coleman, and shows how his sometimes sterile-sounding music informs Iyer's own. And Iyer's touch with the Ellington and Monk gets at enough stride piano and ballad piano history to let you feel where these new sounds have come from.
This is one of the best jazz records of 2010.