Vijay Iyer Sextet album




2581 XThere’s no destination for Vijay Iyer, just the journey, with each album a stop-off distinct from its predecessor. The pianist has recently shared a duo with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, led his regular trio and combined a string quartet with electronics in what was more chamber music than jazz. Also a physicist and cognitive theory researcher, Iyer shines a fierce intelligence on his projects without relaxing his grip on the need to engage, touch and move. His overtly jazzy music here deploys a charming dichotomy between adhering to conventions and inverting them.

It also has broad scope. The thrilling Down to the Wire boasts an in-built turbocharging rhythmic device, while For Amiri Baraka almost hurts as it aches with sadness for the late poet. With him are trumpeter Graham Haynes (who brilliantly employs real-time electronics), saxophonists Steve Lehman and Mark Shim, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Tyshawn Sorey. The lithe improvising occurs within specifically sculpted shapes, so the pieces always feel more than just blowing vehicles on which to swap solos, and did I mention that Iyer is among the most significant creative pianists going around?