Vijay Iyer Trio at the Regattabar, Cambridge, MA, April 10 & 11 at 7:30 & 10:30 p.m.
By Milo Miles
No disputing it – right now, Vijay Iyer is The Man on jazz piano. One proof is that, no matter what the format, he keeps delivering surprises as essential as any earlier ones. Break Stuff (ECM) is his third release with bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore and rather than sliding toward rhythmic routines or rehashed structures, they dig deeper into their collective conversation. Iyer notes that a number of the original tunes are distillations that began with the rhythm section breakdowns of his works by larger ensembles. Likewise, the trio fleshes out the bones of Thelonious Monk’s “Work,” Billy Strayhorn’s masterpiece “Blood Count” and John Coltrane’s “Countdown” without losing their own idiom for a moment. Crump’s interaction with Iyer’s left hand on “Hood” is at once hypnotic and headlong, while Gilmore’s flowing features in “Taking flight” are his most intricate and high-spirited to date. The Iyer Trio shows at Regattabar will show you where it’s at, nothing less.
Milo Miles has reviewed world-music and American-roots music for “Fresh Air with Terry Gross” since 1989. He is a former music editor of The Boston Phoenix. Milo is a contributing writer for Rolling Stone magazine, and he also written about music for The Village Voice and The New York Times. His blog about pop culture and more is Miles To Go.