Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Last Week Part Two - Vijay Iyer & Magnetic Fields

Playing right now: Milksop Holly - Milkweeds (Shimmy-Disc)
(One of Kramer's final releases, and a mighty fine one. Trippy, sleepy and dreamy like it was 1989, when in fact this came out in 1999.)

Don't let the title of this entry fool you. There are no collaborations - that I know of - going on between the popular pianist and Stephin Merritt, although that could be cool. I'm putting the two names together because last week I bought the latest releases by both artists on the same day during what turned out to be a Week of Music.

A few times a year, I hear something that makes me think, Okay, jazz is very much alive and this person/band is taking it into new uncharted waters. Last year it was Stephan Lehman, as well as Chris Potter, both on their new albums as leaders. But I also thought about that at Interval, the Monday Night Jazz Jam Session at Ava, here in Pittsburgh. The music was being pushed into the future, into the Now and we have maps telling us where we are now (meaning that it makes sense) but we know that the next step isn't figured out. Excessive metaphors there, but hopefully you get the idea.

Vijay Iyer's Historicity is like that. It has a bunch of his own tunes, an Andrew Hill piece and some other covers including MIA. They all work and they all smoke. Especially, no pun intended, Hill's "Smoke Stack," which originally was a tad lumbering because it had two basses. Iyer takes the melody and sprays it all over you.

Even though I peeled the shrink wrap off in the car immediately after buying it, and popped in the CD player right then and there, it took me a couple days to get through the album. Not because it's that heavy, but because I was, uh, busy. However, listening to it a bit at a time made sure that none of it blurs together either.

Magnetic Fields I didn't get to until today. Listening to it going to and waiting at Pennzoil for an oil change. Merritt is this generation's Cole Porter. All his songs are catchy and his lyrics are brilliantly witty. I need to listen to it again soon to figure out how much I like it.

Right now I have to hit the hay before I nod off and this fhhhhhhhhhhhhh [I actually did for a second and that was the result.]

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