Thursday, December 1, 2016

Notations on the Vijay Iyer Trio's first set at Jazz at the Bistro

Vijay Iyer introduces Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums at the beginning of the show.

Last night, I caught the Vijay Iyer Trio at Jazz at the Bistro. The music was full of exciting ideas and rhythmic, improvisational movements. The trio, which includes Iyer on piano, Stephan Crump on bass, and Marcus Gilmore on drums, is playing at the Bistro through December 3.

In their first set, the trio moved through various works, including songs from their award-winning Accelerando. At many moments during the performance, the music was "free," which is to say, what they played was not constrained by conventional melodies and patterns we might hear with pop tunes on the radio. Instead, Iyer, Crump, and Gilmore explored an expansive body of phrasings, as they improvised and interacted with each other.

I've followed Iyer's career for some time now, and I began blogging about his music a few years ago. So, I was pleased to witness the trio live here in a show produced by Jazz St. Louis, an organization that coordinates jazz programming in the city and larger region.

Jazz at the Bistro, where the show took place, went through major renovations two years ago. It's a marvelous space, large enough to accommodate two hundred or so people, and yet arranged in a way where you feel close and connected to the musicians.

I sat up front off to the right of the stage closest to Gilmore. Crump was in the center, and Iyer was on the other side. The whole time, I felt like I was in close proximity to all of them. Maybe some of that closeness I felt was a result of the music. 

A Notebook on Vijay Iyer

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