Far From Over
Vijay Iyer – versatile, prolific, consummate – here with his regular trio (though Tyshawn Sorey, powerhouse, genius, is subbing in on drums) augmented with horns (Steve Lehman and Mark Skim on saxes, Graham Haynes on trumpet) has made another stunning work. Far From Over digs deep, provides funk and fury as well as some gentle, calming moments. It’s clever, profound, but never too arty, never just head-scratch music, there’s an accessibility here – and warm lines from Haynes (the title track) and Iyer’s work on the Fender Rhodes and piano provide a lot of the glue. Sorey is full of groove and innovation (Poles, Nope) and the saxes hit peak-Coltrane on more than one occasion.
It’s as if the late-60s Miles Davis bands provide some of the main inspiration for the varietals on offer here. I wanted to say this could have been called In A Strident Way – the perfect counter to Miles’ lush In A Silent Way but though this album is busy, tumbling and spilling over with virtuosity, there’s too much heart and soul in this – it’s nowhere near grating. Difficult for some perhaps but in no way a tough listen. Just a brilliant set of jazz extrapolations.
Stephan Crump on the double-bass is again a crucial component, proud anchor. Again, as with those line-ups on Miles’ music from 1966 through 1971 it’s about every single member of the combo, all have a chance (or two) to shine, but it’s also about how they lock in, how they fit together.
Over the last 15 years Iyer has built a name as – constantly – the one to watch in modern jazz. And with each album he pushes the envelope. But it’s here that he might well have offered his very best set to date. This is full of the right kind of surprises, the very best playing, the special magic. There are moments where it’s even danceable – the groove being placed to the fore. Other times you get that spectral charm, the subtle traces.
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