The Sanskrit word tīrtha (THEER-tha) literally means a ford, or a shallow place in a river that can be easily crossed over. Within a spiritual context, tirtha denotes a holy place near a body of water - somewhere where everyday struggles fall away, and where one passes easily into a deeper and more profound state of being. Aptly, Tirtha is now also the name of a phenomenal trio featuring three powerhouse musicians who at once honor and traverse the streams of tradition. It is also the name of their exciting new album on ACT. Individually, Indian-American pianist-composer Vijay Iyer, Chennai (formerly Madras)-born guitarist-composer Prasanna, and Hyderabad native and tabla player Nitin Mitta are already highly accomplished artists who shift easily among multiple musical languages.
Mutations is Vijay Iyer’s first album as a leader for ECM, and a recording that will widen perceptions of the pianist-composer’s work. At its centre is “Mutations I-X”, a composition scored for string quartet, piano, and electronics. A major piece built out of cells and fragments, it veers through many atmospheres, from moment to moment propulsive, enveloping, lyrical, luminescent, and strangely beautiful. Through thematic interactivity, the interweaving of acoustic and electronic sound-textures, and some decisive improvisational interventions in notated music, Vijay Iyer has created a multi-faceted suite whose very subject is change.
**** (4 stars) "Although Raw Materials is the work of a duo, there's more detail here than you'll find from most combos double or triple its size. An auspicious debut." - Downbeat
" their most striking collaboration yet. A series of confident duets, the set combines stateliness with rawness… It's like seeing two sides of the same coin." - Time Out New York
"a fascinating look into a unique contemporary musical dialogue… [V]ery few recordings reveal such a richness or complexity of emotion – and continue to reveal more of these qualities listen after listen." - All About Jazz
With Historicity, Vijay Iyer one of today's most celebrated and innovative US-American jazz artists spectacularly redefines the classical notion of the piano trio.
A galvanizing album. No further explanation necessary. Please.
Pianist Vijay Iyer leads a quartet on his third outing, featuring Rudresh Mahanthappa on alto saxophone, Stephan Crump on bass, and Derrek Phillips on drums. Iyer's two previous releases were attempts to integrate the avant-garde, South Asian, and M-Base concepts that shaped him as a player and composer. On Panoptic Modes, Iyer continues to do this, but manages to arrive at the next level in terms of artistic focus and vision. With this new quartet music (three tracks are trio pieces), he continues to eschew the rhythmically obvious at all costs. His harmonic and formal concepts are as challenging as ever, yet his exceedingly difficult writing is rendered oddly accessible by the unperturbed facility of his band. Highlights include the brisk, rolling rhythms and animated piano/drum conversation heard on "Configurations"; the highly angular juxtaposition of melody and bassline on "Atlantean Tropes"; the dark, suggestive world of the anti-death penalty ballad "Numbers," which lasts not even two minutes; and the stirring quartet remake of "Trident" (a far slower trio version appeared on Iyer's 1998 record, Architextures). Highly recommended.
With "Reimagining," his first album for Savoy Jazz, pianist Vijay Iyer moves on up in terms of visibility – and in terms of accomplishment. This is his strongest effort yet, balancing rapturous emotion and knotty intellect, melodic flow and rhythmic heft. Iyer works here, as he usually does, with alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa. Mahanthappa, like Iyer an Indian-American who has mined Asian culture to rewarding effect, doesn't so much play songs as lay down shapely streams of consciousness, vamping with greater restraint and variety than he once did. Unlike many lyrically minded young pianists, Iyer is unafraid to attack the keys, but his percussive approach, marked by antic unfurling chords reminiscent of McCoy Tyner's (just as his close partnership with the instant-starting Mahanthappa is reminiscent of Tyner's with John Coltrane), has different levels of intensity. With bassist Stephan Crumb and drummer Marcus Gilmore establishing dense force fields, Iyer moves seamlessly from modal patterns to swing effects to subtle funk figures. His bands are known for their tightness and team concept and this quartet is no exception.
"The most commanding pianist and composer to emerge in recent years…" –The Village Voice
"One of the most important jazz pianists of his generation…" –The Boston Globe
"One of the most promising voices in jazz today." –The Chicago Tribune