Vijay Iyer: Comin' Up


Comin' Up


Vijay Iyer (piano)


Tragicomic (Sunnyside 1186)

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Vijay Iyer (piano), Marcus Gilmore (drums),

Stephan Crump (bass)


Composed by Bud Powell


Recorded: Brooklyn, September 30 & October 1, 2007


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

The composition may have been written by bebop titan Bud Powell, but don't let that fool you. Few pianists of the current day show less bebop influence in their playing than Vijay Iyer, and his version of "Comin' Up" sounds nothing like Powell's original. Instead of crisp comping chords, Iyer sends out waves of sound from the piano. His phrases have none of the intricate chromaticism of bop -- in fact, one of the neatest tricks in his "Comin' Up" solo is Iyer's ability to emphasize single notes within the tempest he is brewing at the keyboard. They stand out as starkly as a piece of flying furniture in the midst of a tornado. Here as elsewhere, Iyer gets high marks for creating his own piano vocabulary, unhindered by the clichés of the past. I am surprised, however, at how everyone's playing on this track stays within neat, four-bar units. I would like to hear this pianist in a band that pushed back a little more, rather than followed in his wake. Here Iyer is a one-man dynamo, lighting up the city, and the whole performance feeds off his energy.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


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