VIJAY IYER

His version of Thelonious Monk and Kenny Clarke’s 1942 compositional breakthrough „Epistrophy” is off the wall, dancing around the melody and speeding up Monk’s left-hand patterns to a dizzying blur in tune with the sheet-of-sound technique Iyer has perfected over the years.

He uses it more as a launch pad for a series of exploratory runs and tone clouds where he occasionally hints at Monk’s rhythmic eccentricities. His cover of Michael Jackson’s Thriller ballad “Human Nature” seems like it took a lot of planning to devise a few clever 25reharmonizations of the original’s descending chorus hook keep it from getting too twinkly, but it’s hard to pull off an instrumental version of a song like that without sounding precious in places, and it does at times.

Joe Tangari | pitchfork.com | 6.10.2010

A totshortest and simplest summary of the album which was already named by the critics as one of the most beautiful jazz fruit of the year. (...) Iyer, who recorded the material on this album on his own, has total control of time, form and the way the interpretation develops. He amazes us with the logic and the consistency which becomes a certain obvious way of constructing the dramaturgy of the individual interpretations. This is accompanied by a great music |imagination which never ceases to surprise the listener with notes so unpredictable that every phrase seems to involve us in a kind of game at the same time demanding great concentration. I warn you, this is not a kind of pleasant background music. It is a story, a music journey that Iyer takes us on already in the prologue - a beautiful interpretation of „Humane Nature” by Steve Porcaro. We can either get on this tram or stay at the stop. You cannot be in both of these places at the same time.

It is enough to listen to „Darn That Dream” by Van Heusen to see that in Iyer’s music style everything becomes relative. Harmony, form, formal structure. They always seem to serve as a background for the musician’s own visions. This is also the case in the phenomenal interpretation of Monk’s „Epistrophcloseness to the music of the great and much regretted cubist of the jazz piano. Here, you have to follow the soloist’s way of thinking fast. The covers on this record can compete with the original material. Prelude: Heartpiece or Autoscopy as well as Patterns - they all look ahead into the future of jazz still keeping the roots of jazz pianistics as a dominant element. Pianistics that constitutes a part of tradition with Monk as a milestone, but enriched with the experience of Taylor, Sunn Ra and Jarrett. Iyer has a beautiful ability of combining the world of rhythmic m-base constructs in the style of Steve Coleman with rhythmic magic of a hindu raga and with aleatoricism (vide: Patterns), subjecting everything to one aim only - improvisation. At other times, listening closely to the single notes of the waterfall-like Autoscopy we might have an impression that every sound was primarily written down as a note and only later performed. Nothing is accidental here! If you feel like, listen to the accents that emerge from the stream of sounds and become an additional voice - something like a hidden polifony. Amazing! (…)

This album has one more advantage - the sound quality. Recorded by Cookie Marenco (director with e Grammy nominations), it posesses amazing, almost audiophile qualities. Marenco, together with Patrick O’Connor (specialist in transforming analogue signal into a digital format), reached a complete accoustic sound of the piano recording it o-inch magnetic tape and later converting it to the world e and water is compelling. 

Piotr Iwicki | „Jazz Forum”