Archive for April, 2012

Future of Jazz: Part Two, Vijay

Now on to the Vijay Iyer trio and their new album “Accelerando“. If you haven’t been paying close attention, the Vijay Iyer trio, consisting of Vijay, Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums, made quite a splash back in 2009 with the release of their album “Historicity“. In the time since, they’ve been in high demand as a touring group, and with good reason. “Historicity” was a pretty captivating album and “Accelerando” delivers just as its predecessor did. If, perhaps, lacking the element of surprise that “Historicity” had, the new album is, if anything, an even better, even more tightly constructed work.

If I felt that the recent Robert Glasper album was a surprisingly static affair, and unfortunately so, I cannot make the same criticism of Vijay. If anything, the Vijay Iyer Trio is a group with an overabundance of dynamism. Part of what makes the group so fascinating is simply the way in which the band members interact with each other. As a group they largely eschew the traditional model of melody-somebody solos-somebody else solos-melody-the end for a much more nuanced approach. One moment one member of the band will be up front, the next somebody else will suddenly step forward and take the lead; ‘solos’ will blend together in such a way that sometimes it’s hard to tell where one person’s solo begins and another’s ends.

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The Future of “Jazz”: Part One

The last month or so has seen three releases by artists who are sometimes held up as the “new thing” for jazz going forward. I’m talking about Robert Glasper, Vijay Iyer and Esperanza Spalding. I’ve been busy and haven’t had much of an opportunity to review things as they come, but with a bit of free time right now, I’d like to take a moment to talk about these releases and what they say about the state of the music. Each of these releases says, not always with the same amount of success, something different, and if we want to continue talking about ‘jazz’ as a community or type of music or even a group of related musics, we need to address what exactly is going on. First, a few words about these albums, starting with Glasper. I’ll cover Vijay and Esperanza and the general message in following posts.

Before I attempt to review Robert Glasper’s “Black Radio” I want to start by saying that Glasper is one of my favorites of the younger crowd of pianists and probably the young pianist whose future I most excitedly look forward to. I’ve seen the trio live and past albums have been great. And, on top of that, I think the melding of jazz and hip hop that he’s looking into is an exciting way to incorporate new elements of popular music culture into the framework of jazz. I say all this so that no one will get the wrong impression when I say that I found “Black Radio” incredibly disappointing.

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