Vijay Iyer

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Tragicomic Review

by Ken Dryden

Vijay Iyer and alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa blend their Indian heritage with the influence of their New York jazz experience in this striking session, where they're joined by bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore. The haunting miniature "The Weight of Things" (credited to the entire quartet) leads into the furious protest song "Macaca Please" (the latter title based on a slur uttered by a U.S. senator during the 2006 campaign), a cauldron of many influences. Iyer's dramatic reworking of Bud Powell's obscure "Comin' Up" gives it a more contemporary flavor, though the reggae rhythm gets tiresome after a while. Iyer's solo interpretation of the standard "I'm All Smiles" is more conventional, though with a bittersweet flavor. "Threnody" is not to be confused with Marian McPartland's composition; Iyer's haunting melody has a sense of foreboding disaster. Recommended.

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