By Lynell George.
GREG SAYS: Sometimes a friend shoots me a quick email about a show, and it makes me feel as if I'd been there. My colleague Lynell did that the other day about one of this generation's most significant pianists, Vijay Iyer.
LYNELL SAYS: I went not with my "critic's head" but my "curious head." I liked it very much, but in a certain way, I don't feel I saw a Vijay show.
It was like looking at a big equation being worked out onstage -- instead of on a blackboard -- as Iyer's band grew from a trio, to quartet (his mentor saxist Steve Coleman tipped it into something slightly different), to a sextet with Graham Haynes on trumpet and Mark Shim on tenor. Lots of shapes, colors, angles, loops.
Marcus Gilmore's drums were absolutely the glue that kept things from shattering all over the floor. Iyer was highly propulsive. That steady building he does, like stacking tiles.
I think I need to see him again -- in a trio setting to really see what that sound is like on a smaller scale. This was exciting, but I still don't think I quite know what it's like to sit with him in a room and truly HEAR him.
GREG SAYS: I get that; Iyer's personality comes across with more beef in smaller groups. And with Coleman on the spot, the direction was likely to lean toward the saxist, who goes for intellectual, high-concept structures.
Let's go together next time!
Read Matt Duersten's longer take on this and the other Angel City Jazz Festival shows (and scope out Myles Regan's fine fotos) here.