Dave Holland, Vijay Iyer Trio | Symphony Center | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Dave Holland, Vijay Iyer Trio Critic's Choice Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., Oct. 30, 8 p.m. 2009

On his superb new album, Historicity (ACT), VIJAY IYER hasn’t exactly reinvented the piano trio, but he does treat the format as something more than a showcase for flashy extended solos. It’s not that Iyer, bassist Stephan Crump, and drummer Marcus Gilmore don’t improvise. Though they’re playing tunes, not free jazz, these are some of the most rigorous, multipronged improvisational performances I’ve heard this year—all three members independently and spontaneously retool the material, and no one player is ever really in the spotlight. In a departure for Iyer, only four of the ten pieces are originals (and only two of those are new), but almost none of the others are part of the standard jazz repertoire—the trio reshapes songs by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Leonard Bernstein, and Andrew Hill so thoroughly that they might as well be entirely new works, a practice Iyer refers to as “versioning” in the liner notes. The most imaginative improvising here isn’t of the usual solo-over-chord-changes variety; instead the trio plays with tempo, density, phrasing, and groove, creating a wonderful tension between the way we expect to hear the tunes and what Iyer and company do with them. In his takes on M.I.A.’s “Galang” and Ronnie Foster’s “Mystic Brew” (best known as a sample source for A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation”) he mutates and dilates key passages beyond recognition. Justin Brown will play drums here; the quartet of bassist Dave Holland, pianist Jason Moran, saxophonist Chris Potter, and drummer Eric Harland headlines. —Peter Margasak

Price: $18-$70

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