Saturday, April 12, 2008

Vijay Iyer's "Tragicomic" Drops a Week from Tuesday

You read right everybody, Vijay Iyer's new record with his quartet comes out a week from Tuesday, and since I think of them like a preteen girl in 1964 thinks of the Beatles (I almost fainted when I went to a clinic by Rudresh Mahanthappa), you can expect me to be camping outside my local record store Monday night like one of those Star Wars fanatics.

I'm sure to a lot of you that sounds like hyperbole (Granted, I'm not actually planning on camping out outside of my local record store Monday night), but Vijay Iyer is worth it. For those of you who don't know his music, I suggest you run (don't walk!) out and buy both "Re-imagining," Iyer's most recent quartet date, and "In What Language," his first project with Mike Ladd (They've since made "Still Life with Commentator," which is also stellar, but not as representative). I could go on for the rest of this post about how "In What Language" represents the culmination of the alternate jazz history started in the mid-eighties by Steve Coleman, but I'll wait for a dry spell in news and releases to do so.

More importantly, two tracks off of "Tragicomic" can be heard on his myspace, and both are absolutely killin'. "Machine Days" is spastic, and extremely cool, but the better of these two tracks in my mind is "Threnody," which begins as a solo piano track and turns into a display of Rudresh Mahanthappa's saxophone pyrotechnics (the song reminds me of a ticking time bomb up until Mahanthappa's solo). I had the luck to hear Iyer explain the thought-process behind this track at a masterclass a few months ago; the song is broken up into two sections, a "free" section before Mahanthappa's solo, and then a vamp during it. The "free" in "'free' section" is in quotation marks because while the harmony is free, the harmonic rhythm is not. Chords change when they're supposed to, just not to the chords you expect (Iyer plays a non-predetermined triad on top of Stephen Crump's non-predetermined bass note, creating unexpected chords).

So basically, I'm excited. Also, some time in the near future you can expect a review of Brad Mehldau's new "Live;" You can hear his version of Wonderwall here.

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