Issue May 1, 2012

Accelerando

Vijay Iyer Trio
ACT MUSIC + VISION

Accelerando = gradually increasing in speed. You don’t need a dictionary to appreciate the cutting-edge, sometimes-understated virtuosity of pianist Iyer, drummer Marcus Gilmore and bassist Stephan Crump. This album mixes originals with Iyer’s arrangements, from Heatwave’s “The Star of a Story” to Henry Threadgill’s “Little Pocket Size Demons.” Iyer’s opening “Bode” is a dark sketch, followed by his “Optimism,” building to a crescendo following Crump’s solo. The sensitive reworking of “Human Nature” vindicates the sometimes-maligned Miles Davis use of this Michael Jackson tune. Throughout, Gilmore’s drumming draws more from funk and rock than swing, but is well integrated into the leader’s concepts. The closing interpretation of Duke Ellington’s lesser-known “The Village of the Virgins” hints of the spirituality of the composer’s late work. The original approaches to playing, composing and arranging make clear why Iyer made the JazzTimes cover.