Vijay Iyer Trio Break Stuff on 2LP + Download
Break Stuff features Vijay Iyer’s long-running and widely-acclaimed trio with bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, a band in existence for eleven years now. As for the album title, Break Stuff is what transpires after formal elements have been addressed. Iyer calls the break “a span of time in which to act. It’s the basis for breakdowns, break-beats, and break dancing...it can be the moment when everything comes to life.” A number of the pieces here are breakdowns of other Iyer constructions.
Some are from a Break Stuff suite premiered at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, some derive from Open City, a collaboration with Nigerian-born writer Teju Cole and large ensemble. The trio energetically recasts almost everything it touches, but on “Work,” Vijay pays a disciple’s faithful homage to his “number one hero of all time,” Thelonious Monk. “Countdown” reconsiders the classic Giant Steps era Coltrane tune inside a rhythmic framework inspired by West African music and in particular by the drumming of Brice Wassy, a formative influence for Marcus Gilmore.
“Blood Count,” the last piece of music written by Billy Strayhorn, is played solo by Vijay. “Mystery Woman,” originally part of the Break Stuff suite and sharing a scalar figure with the title track, is driven by compound pulses which owe a debt to the mathematics of South Indian drumming and a mridangam rhythm shown to Iyer by Rajna Swaminathan. The three ‘bird pieces’ on this album – “Starlings,” “Geese,” and “Wrens” are from the Open City project, loosely based on Cole’s novel.
Break Stuff, recorded in June 2014 at New York’s Avatar Studio and produced by Manfred Eicher, is the third ECM release from Vijay Iyer. It follows the chamber music recording Mutations and the film-and-music project Radhe radhe: Rites of Holi.
Vijay Iyer (piano)
Stephan Crump (bass)
Marcus Gilmore (drums)
Vijay Iyer Trio Break Stuff Track Listing:
6. Taking Flight
7. Blood Count
1. Break Stuff
2. Mystery Woman