Monday, October 13, 2014

CD Review: Trio 3 with Vijay Iyer - Wiring

Trio 3 & Vijay Iyer

To call Trio 3 a supergroup affixes an overused label to the band. But at the same time these three musicians have been at the forefront of innovative jazz, going as far back as the 1960s. Drummer Andrew Cyrille was a key member of the Cecil Taylor Unit, bassist Reggie Workman was the first bassist with John Coltrane's Quartet (and played with numerous other heavy hitters) and alto saxophonist Oliver Lake was and still is a driving force in the World Saxophone Quartet.

The band has welcomed pianists like Geri Allen and Jason Moran on previous discs for Intakt. So bringing on Vijay Iyer seemed like a natural choice. Each of them brought compositions to the session, Iyer with the most ambitious one, the three-part "Suite for Trayvon (and Thousands More)," which is dark and ominous, parts sounding written-through while others sections open up a little more.

The mood shifts greatly with each track, playing up the depth of the players. Iyer's "The Prowl" builds on a steady bass vamp with a staccato theme on piano and alto. Immediately following is "Synapse II" which begins with an alto shriek and stays pretty free and loose. Workman, who penned that one, also wrote "Willow Song," a rubato set of bowed bass and stormy piano, with plenty of dramatic beauty.

Lake's two compositions have loose sketches of themes that quickly slide into loose improvisation. A snare crack regularly cues things back around during the title track. "Shave" gets dark and stormy, with rolls and crashes again between band statements, with Iyer exploring some Cecil Taylor key strikes and Lake raising the excitement with some fast squonks and wails.

Cyrille might have spent the '60s proving that jazz could survive without a steady 4/4 groove, but "Tribute to Bu" proves that he can lay down a solid Art Blakey groove as good as anyone else. Each of his bandmates briefly pop up during the track for a dialogue during the track.

On the subject of straight ahead jazz, "Chiara" (written by pianist Curtis Clark) proves they know as much about this style as any young lion, and maybe a little more. While Workman lays down a 3/4 tempo, Cyrille toys with it and Iyer makes some original choices about what to do with the changes. Anyone who thinks that free players don't have an appreciation for tradition needs to pipe down and listen up.

Wiring doesn't sound like a band-with-special-guest album or a leader-with-a-guest-band session. These are four minds working together for the common good, which this disc definitely is.

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