Vijay Iyer Trio: Break Stuff

Album review
Vijay Iyer Trio: Break Stuff

Vijay Iyer Trio

Break Stuff

Label: ECM
Media: CD
Genre: Jazz

Following on the heels of 2014’s acclaimed Mutations, the pianist-composer’s ECM debut that found him writing for piano, string quartet, and electronics, Iyer continues the momentum he established with bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore on 2009’s Historicity and 2012’s Accelerando. On Break Stuff, the intrepid sonic explorers again deal in the kind of intricate time-shifting territory and interactive group-think that has been the group’s stock-in-trade since its inception. Opening on a subdued note with “Starlings,” Iyer and Crump explore a contrapuntal conversation on “Chorale” until Gilmore elevates the proceedings with his whirlwind precision on the kit. On other Iyer originals like “Diptych,” the rhapsodic “Mystery Woman,” the mesmerizing “Hood,” and the frantically propulsive and slightly off-kilter title track, the three seem to be operating in wholly different orbits that magically intersect in mathematically predetermined ways. It’s an amazing balancing act, like watching the Flying Karamazov Brothers juggling ostinatos instead of pins. Elsewhere the inventive trio puts its own spin on Thelonious Monk’s “Work” (the lone swinger here) and reconfigures John Coltrane’s “Countdown” using its own unique, bristling vocabulary. And Iyer turns in a stirring solo performance on Billy Strayhorn’s delicate and melancholy ballad “Blood Count.” An inspired new slant on jazz by three remarkably empathetic players.

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  • primary artist, Vijay Iyer Trio

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