Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Vijay Iyer / Steve Lehman / Tyshawn Sorey saga: 'Far From Over,' indeed

Photo: Lynne Harty

The new Vijay Iyer Sextet album feels both like an arrival point (i.e., a summit-like convergence of the now fully risen progressive-jazz stars of the past decade-plus, namely Iyer, Steve Lehman and Tyshawn Sorey) and a blueprint for the future. It's also a hell of a fun, engaging listen, a record I'd recommend to pretty much any fan of any kind of "modern" jazz — it has just the right blend of old-school format and cutting-edge execution. I was happy to be able to share some thoughts on Far From Over via Rolling Stone.

I still have fond memories of witnessing Iyer, Lehman and Sorey's "robojazz fury" up close at a Fieldwork gig almost exactly eight years ago, as well as watching and listening as each of these three have branched out and bloomed (here's a best-of-2016 DFSBP roundup featuring some props for Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith's excellent A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke; here's a 2012 TONY piece on Lehman's striking trio record Dialect Fluorescent; and here's TONY's best-of-2007 roundup, where both I and Steve Smith shouted out Sorey's spellbinding debut as a leader, that/not) into true leaders of the jazz vanguard

And I intend no slight to Graham Haynes, Mark Shim and Stephan Crump, the other musicians on Far From Over. Lehman's octet, Iyer's trio, Sorey's various bands, Fieldwork itself — all superb, but this Iyer group seems like something special and distinct; even, in the context of this music in my lifetime, historic. (I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that we're in a kind of neo–Blue Note moment here; not in terms of a retro sound but in terms of a stunningly deep pool of players who are cross-pollinating in all kinds of fascinating ways, much as, say, Tony Williams, Jackie McLean, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter et al. did back in the day.) Can't wait to hear where these musicians go, individually and as a collective.


*See also Seth Colter Walls' typically sharp, detailed Pitchfork take.

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