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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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ACT 9524-2



Bode [2:18]; Optimism [7:23]; The Star of a Story [5:46]; Human Nature (trio extension) [9:38]; Wildflower [4:10]; Mmmhmm [4:33]; Little Pocket Size Demons [7:14]; Lude [4:54]; Accelerando [2:52]; Actions Speak [5:38]; The Village of the Virgins [5:17]

Vijay Iyer (piano, Stephen Crump (bass), Marcus Gilmore (drums)

Rec. Sear Sound, New York, USA on August 8-9. 2011. Engineer: Chris Allen

ACT 9524-2 [59:55]


Here’s a trio that sounds considerably larger than the sum of its parts in a disc of hard-hitting straight ahead jazz that really gets you going. Once again the music is from a group I’ve not come across before and that is increasingly the case when it comes to the jazz discs that come my way (5 recently) and thank God for that because it means that the future’s bright for jazz with so many young players coming through in so many countries. The strange thing in my experience though is that the audiences are not getting younger which will inevitably be a threat. I wonder if this is the case around the world or is it true only in my own backyard? Anyway the music goes on and in this case is brilliant and exciting. I usually get withdrawal symptoms without my sax fix but I didn’t miss it anywhere near as much as usual with this trio. Vijay Iyer is an inspired pianist with incredible talent and a really powerful drive that ignites his two co-conspirators and together they set the disc alight with great rhythms and muscular playing that never lets go – an iron fist in an armoured gauntlet! There is a uniformity here that makes the disc seem like a unified whole as if it were a symphony in eleven movements and rather than the oft repeated form of a mix of fast and slow tunes we have here a similarity of pace and it makes for a refreshing change to the usual format. It’s not until track 8 that the pace does eventually slow down to an extent and gives us a breather to reflect on what’s gone before and to appreciate the change of pace. Track 9, the album’s title track, however, brings us back to Vijay’s earth and another powerfully stated musical message. In the notes he says “If music is action, then it is best heard in context. Today’s context sounds like acceleration: rising inequality, populist revolution, economic crisis, climate change, Moore’s law, global connectivity. As the flow of information gets faster, denser and more intricately networked, our attention shifts to the larger forms, the slower tempos that gracefully evolve like the spiral arms of a hurricane”. I can’t say I fully understand every nuance of his message though I think I get the gist which is that music has a greater raison d’être than pure entertainment and I think he’s certainly proved that with this disc which is extremely enjoyable as well as being imbued with an ambition for the music to make a powerful statement about the state of the world today. The final track is by the great Duke Ellington from his ballet “The River” which has a wonderful beat and is a fitting close to a really thought-provoking and thoroughly exciting hour of great jazz expertly played.

Steve Arloff

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