Up & Down beats: Complex genius
ACCELERANDO Vijay Iyer Trio Act/Highnote
ACCELERANDO Vijay Iyer Trio Act/Highnote
VIJAY Iyer’s strength lies in his complexity, that vision for the unknown and undecipherable. Rhythmically, you may have a hard time to groove with his idea of the jazz-piano trio as opposed to the more listenable Keith Jarrett or even Brad Mehldau, but give yourself the patience and perseverance and you’ll be rewarded.
Iyer is not exactly a newbie though his name does not resonate as commercially as Mehldau or Jarrett but his sense of jazz history, ensemble arrangement and very open-mindedness towards tackling dense aspects of the genre is a patent by itself.
Iyer’s penchant for mixing originals with covers is eclectically delightful. His reading of Michael Jackson’s Human Nature deliberately tries to catch you off guard, in that it doesn’t take the linear route in the expanse that Miles Davis took or even Tuck Andress did in his solo jazz guitar interpretation.
Treading with cat-like agility with bassist Stephan Crump’s arco bass and drummer Marcus Gilmore’s snare stabs, Iyer’s attack on the low rumble Heatwave’s The Star Of A Story is an incident in tugging, pulling, pushing and shoving. For jazz purists, Iyer does wonders to Herbie Nichols’ Wildflower with a quirky swing that is hypnotically cool.
Everyone’s got a favourite jazz pianist but put Iyer in your top five with this fine effort.
SEEDS FROM THE UNDERGROUND
Mack Avenue Records
ANOTHER player from the Miles Davis alumnus, Kenny Garrett has evoked much respect — he is frequently imitated though his place in the jazz world is still vague.
But that has not stopped him from minting fine albums in the past and it is no different with this album, where he pays tributes to the people and influences that shaped his jazz journey, ideas and vision. It is an album that says Thank You 10 times — giving credit to his family, friends, mentors and musical heroes.
It’s a plethora of varied styles — Latin is large and loud in the whimsically named Boogety Boogety where his playing is as bright as a rising sun.
Check out Garrett’s pianist, the painfully underrated Benito Gonzalez, and drummer Ronald Bruner, whose Latin drenched slants is terribly infectious and relentless.
The triangulation of these three players puts the solid foundation to Garrett’s most aggressive playing, two great examples being his tribute to Jackie Maclean in J. Mac (hard pounding) and the easy-going waltz Haynes Here as tribute to drummer Roy Haynes.
The personalities driving this album are diverse throughout but it’s Garrett’s saxophone that screams for attention — playful, bold and pensive — with a melodic bent that’s perfectly balanced.
UN, DOS, TRES...
ELECTRIC bassist Carles Benavent’s musical discernment is neither revolutionary nor genre-bending, but in all the ensemble scenarios that he has positioned himself, the soloing over the rhythmic atmosphere is toxically narcissistic. It’s about him and him all the time, the musical vision takes a
It’s the same when he is playing with Chick Corea or duos with fellow Spanish virtuosos, Benavent’s basslines scream for attention with that brutish plucking and finger picking, leaving little room for the music to breathe.
Granted, Benavent’s style borrows heavily from Stanley Clarke’s annoying slapping technique and some of the heavy riffs of Jaco Pastorius, but he takes it to more extreme measures. However, when the music shines through, as in Bailas and Novembre, the interplay with Roger Mas (piano) and Roger Blavia (drums) commands attention with its suppleness and serenity.
LARRY Coryell is an exponent from the early fusion years, where he helped change what we know of electric jazz now with fellow journeymen who paved the way for multi-textured music that is brash and uncompromising.
That uncompromising attitude is melded in Montgomery where Coryell visits the American civil rights movement to pay tribute to the heroes, both documented and unsung, in seminal events of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Selma to Montgomery marches.
Using the drumless trio concept, Coryell harnessed the powers of pianist John Colliani and bassist Jim Cammack to play the blues to recreate the social upheavals that compelled America towards social integration that eschewed racial lines.
Each piece has a tale of courage — Tales Of The Montgomery Bus Boycott goes to Claudette Colvin, who defiantly disobeyed the order to sit at the back of a bus only because she was black.
Along Dexter Avenue recreates the bombing of Dr Martin Luther King’s house, in slow blues which would have told the tale in slow motion had a video been created.
Coryell’s work received little or no traction, not even from jazz critics, but over here, he deserves at least a listen as to those terrible years of the mid-1950s in America, if not for the slow burn of the music, then to its historic underpinning for its depth and soul.