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London Jazz Festival Previews (4) Tom Cawley on Vijay Iyer


Tom Cawley writes about Vijay Iyer (photo above- South Bank/ Purcell Room Saturday November 15th, 7.45pm)

The gig I’m most looking forward to in this year’s LJF is Vijay Iyer ‘s. I’ve only quite recently become aware of him, but he had such a huge impact on me that I was compelled to buy everything he’s ever done, immediately! And his new trio album, Historicity, takes it to a new level again.

I’d heard a couple of bootlegs of the trio playing in Germany and France, and was blown away by the sound of the band. The studio album goes even further in capturing it. This is incredible music – highly detailed in every way but with phenomenal power. Rhythmically, it’s very advanced, but he uses rhythm not to add a sort of blatant complexity – rather to add emotional depth. Things speed up and slow down (sometimes subjectively, sometimes literally), the grooves and melodies are utterly unique. He can use rhythm to create angst or wild abandon or deep sorrow. He’s an artist with rhythm.

Of course, he’s also about melody and harmony. He makes melodies out of anything, he uses the whole piano, all of its extremes. The trio is a proper unit; they play all over the tunes, swapping roles, against one another, with one another. On a technical level this is extremely complicated music; for them to be able to play as a group with such freedom and ingenuity is staggering.

I’m a huge fan, as you can see. For me this is what great jazz has always been about – pushing forward, freshness, ingenuity and beauty. I thoroughly recommend this gig – and his records – to any fans of modern improvised music, full stop.

Further reading: Vijay Iyer wrote for the Guardian about music and mathematics.
Peter Bacon’s review of Historicity from thejazzbreakfast blog is HERE

Polish pianist Leszek Mozdzer also plays on this gig.

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