LAST CALL CD OF THE MONTH: Vijay Iyer Sextet/Far From Over/ECM

Oct 2, 2017

This is a relentless, energetic set from one of today's top Jazz pianists and his sextet of total professionals.

The Vijay Iyer Sextet, led by acclaimed jazz pianist, composer and educator Vijay Iyer, unleashes a truly engaging program of 10 original selections written by the bandleader on Far From Over. Interestingly, this is Iyer's fifth release for ECM records since 2014.  

What a date it is. The opener, "Poles", is a shimmering, floating experience of music featuring Graham Haynes. It leads directly to the title track, a complex, relentless piece which showcases Iyer's immense talent and percussive attack at the piano. "Far From Over" is contrasted nicely by "Nope", a piece with staccato rhythms that recall the edgy music of Miles Davis in the 1970s.

Other highlights include "End Of The Tunnel" where Iyer's fury at the keyboard is amplified by the hornet like horn section of Graham Haynes, Steve Lehman and Mark Shim. The entire piece at times might remind the listener of the classic Art Blakey and the Jazz Messenger dates of the 1960s, but with an obvious post-bop edge it very much has its own identity.

There is also "Wake", which is a sound painting that is hard to resist, as Iyer and his band explore more subduded, earthy emotions on this track which lives up to its title.

And "Threnody" starts with a beautiful solo statement from Iyer that evolves into a spiritual crescendo of inspired intensity, ala John Coltrane or Albert Ayler. The band is on fire as the album comes to a close.

The Vijay Iyer Sextet is:

Vijay Iyer: piano, Fender Rhodes

Graham Haynes: cornet, flugelhorn, electronics

Steve Lehman: alto saxophone

Mark Shim: tenor saxophone

Stephan Crump: double-bass

Tyshawn Sorey: drums

About Vijay Iyer:

Vijay Iyer performing at the Iowa City Jazz Festival, 2016.
Credit Chris Cooke/KIOS

Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer  has been described by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star,” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.” He was named DownBeat Magazine‘s 2014 Pianist of the Year, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, and a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist.

The New York Times observes, “There’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer.” Iyer has released over twenty albums,  most recently for the ECM label. He is arguably one of the foremost jazz pianists alive today. Vijay Iyer is also an educator in the senior faculty in the Department of Music at Harvard University. He has performed on concert stages around the world. This reviewer saw him in person at the Iowa City Jazz Festival in 2016, where the pianist and his trio presented an impeccable set of brilliant artistry.

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