Tag Archives: vijay iyer

Vijay Iyer, Linda May Han Oh, Tyshawn Sorey – Uneasy

22 Jun

Uneasy certainly delivers on the title. This is jazz that is very good at putting you off your ease. It’s always got something to surprise you with. It’s very skilled jazz and very listenable for all the sharpness. It doesn’t thrust itself on you, but it always has something interesting to say and when you pay attention to it, it’s very good at sweeping you away. You’re just compelled to follow it from point to point and see what comes next.

There’s a wonderful loudness in “Touba.” It makes you sit up straight and enervates you. “Drummer’s Song” holds a single pattern for an unsettlingly long time while threading lots of different things around it. It’s a startling and captivating effect. There’s great chemistry too. There’s a wonderful bass solo by Linda Oh in “Night and Day” that transitions smoothly a piano solo that moves smoothly into a drum solo that stretches into an excellent play with the piano and some very understated bass work. It lets everything settle for a moment and then picks things back up with excellent energy and finally ends beautifully.

Uneasy takes this intelligence and sharpness and it’s ability to disorient the listener and uses it for meaning. The political statements running through this album are powerful and reinforced by the shock of the music. It elevates the album and takes it from merely an excellent jazz album to essential listening for anyone at all interested in jazz.

Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn – The Transitory Poems

5 Apr

The most striking thing about The Transitory Poems is just how spirited it is. Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn are both known for how far avant they are of the garde and putting the two of them together for a live concert in the Liszt Academy in Budapest is the kind of set-up that is bound to bear fruit.

The amount of chemistry is staggering though. Two musicians so dissimilar have no right to work together so well. For that matter, an album so improvisational has no right to work so well. There are admittedly a couple of points were the momentum peters out a little and the musicians seem to be taking stock of where they are, but those are the exceptions in an album of the impressive energy of pieces like “Kairos.” At points, this energy becomes nothing short of chaotic. “Luminous Brew” is Pandæmonium if Hell were beautiful. The sound cascades and crashes. For a record with just two pianos, this in a very physical listen.

The clarity of just having two pianos works very well. The music is often exceedingly pretty, but always very bright and very sharp. Like crushed glass under a spotlight, it dazzles. It’s a jagged and difficult album and valuable for that. The artists constantly surprise and their deftness in resolving themes and then picking them up again is exceptional. This is not for the less experienced of jazz aficionados, but it is deeply rewarding for those up to the challenge.

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