Customer Reviews: Historicity
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on December 14, 2009
Historicity is the new trio album by the Vijay Iyer trio (Iyer on piano, Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums.) It is also, in my estimation, the best new jazz release of 2009. The album features 10 tunes and includes covers of such diverse songwriters as Andrew Hill, Stevie Wonder and Julius Hemphill. There are also three originals by Iyer.

The playing on this CD is wonderful - angular, virtuosic, intelligent. This is piano trio music for the 21st century. Just listen for the traces of the beautiful melody in the density of sound that the group achieves on their fantastic cover of Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere." The Hill number "Smokestack" is nearly as brilliant. I listen to dozens of jazz trio albums each year and while many (if not most) are enjoyable and musically competent, very few really having something new to say. Vijay Iyer's Historicity is one of those albums. Listen and hear for yourself.
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on February 11, 2010

When I first heard this was going to be a trio and Rudresh Mahanthappa was not going to be playing on the CD I thought this couldn't possibly be as good as Vijay's recent releases. Vijay and Rudresh have such chemistry ... how could the trio be better? Well it is. It is way better. I love Vijay's prior albums but this one is really special. Prior to this album I never really heard bassist Crump. There was too much else going on. On this format you can really here Marcus Gilmore on drums and Stephen Crump on bass, and they are really good. And Vijay can fill up space like you wouldn't believe. Having no other leads gives Vijay lots of room and he romps all over the place. Two other important things to note about this album: #1 it is very modern and reminds me a bit of E.S.T. #2 This is the first Vijay Iyer album where it truly is a modern postbop album and not a world music/jazz fusion album. There is a tinge of world accent on the remake of Trident, but besides that this could just as easily be a modern Scandanavian trio. While I love the world accent on the previous albums, it is impressive to see Vijay move past something that was successful onto some that is even better.

Song Highlights:

Dogon A.D. - This track is a modern funky romp. Bassist Crump opens with the bow on the bass strings and gets down with it. This really reminds of of E.S.T. i miss them. Dogon A.D. is an album by Julius Hemphill which was released in 1972. Vijay really dug deep in history to find this one. Thank you.

Mystic Brew - Vijay reworked a Ronnie Foster song here. Vijay does these killer staccato appegios that just rock. It's upbeat and pretty and magical.

Galang - very modern tune originaly written by Maya Arulpragasam. Sounds like an electronica sound adapted to jazz.

... All the songs are good. I could write more but you get the point. This is a real gem. Highest recommendation. Absoluely essential for Vijay Iyer fans. The other songs include 4 by Vijay Iyer (2 new, 2 remakes) 1 from West Side Story, 1 by Andrew Hill, and 1 by Stevie Wonder.
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on October 13, 2009
The trio, rather than the larger group with Rudresh on tenor, is really the perfect format/foil for Vijay Iyer. This recording is simply stunning, whether youre a fan of extraordinary technique or pure improvisational chops. Just a cursory listen to how Vijay uses a standard like "Somewhere" as a vehicle for melodic and harmonic reinvention is worth the price of this recording. Among the covers here: Juluis Hemphill's Dogon AD and Smokestack which reveals the clear influence of Andrew Hill on Vijay. Simply stunning.
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on May 22, 2015
Pianist Vijay Iyer, with Marcus Gilmore on drums and Stephan Crump on bass, is updating the piano trio with exciting rhythms and a fresh mixture of modern jazz classics (by Andrew Hill, Julius Hemphill and Ronnie Foster), pop songs (by Bernstein & Sondheim, Stevie Wonder, and M.I.A), and original compositions by Iyer.

This is vibrant, contemporary jazz, great for listening while dancing or sitting, but if sitting, some part of you is likely to be in motion!

Iyer includes a quote from Gramsci's Prison Notebooks in the liner notes, and refers to the "Brown and Black Atlantic" of colonialism and the slave trade, so we know the music is informed by a radical political and social sensibility.

My jazz listening has grown further and further from what's current, still rooted in the Sixties/Seventies free jazz/improv of the AACM (Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill) and Europe (Peter Brotzmann, Evan Parker), so I am quite happy to have discovered some great jazz being made by younger musicians!
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on April 14, 2011
Having seen the Historicity concert on tour, i knew pretty much what to expect in creativity and quality. Great piano poly-rhythmic skills on the part of Vijay Iyer...he is a brilliant artist with a brilliant cast....Marcus Gilmore, a very talented drummer (and grandson of Roy Haynes) and Stephan Crump, a great bass player. I really appreciated 'Galang' (Trio Riot Version), typical of Vijay Iyer's style and talent.
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on January 29, 2012
Historicity is without a doubt one of the most unique piano trio albums to come along in quite some time. Vijay Iyer Trio's expansive, worldly, and highly intellectual style is one that they can claim as their very own, and it is exemplified the best in the 10 tracks here. For a while, I was very curious about this music but I had a hard time understanding it on the level that would maximize my appreciation. The moral of the story here is that Historicity requires patience and a A LOT of listening to really comprehend its musical depths. However, careful listening is rewarded with an understanding of this group's telepathic musical connection.
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on January 17, 2011
I've never quite understood most Jazz, but that doesn't seem to matter with Vijay Iyer. He creates some of the best music to listen to in all situations, background music, driving music, and best of all he truly entertains when I just sit down, close my eyes and listen. While all Vijay Iyer albums are great, this one is definitely the best.
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on April 22, 2016
This pianist / composer, recently appointed to a chair in music at Harvard, and a former PhD. physicist, has been greatly hyped for his free-form music and collaborations. I recently heard him perform with the poet/author Teju Cole, a woman bassist and woman marimbist, at the Met Breuer's opening in Manhattan. For me, a classic jazz and blues fan, there is not enough melody and an oversupply of intellectual theorization in his music -- very abstract, though some passages in the live concert, especially interaction between bass and marimba, were lovely. "Historicity" left me cold, I fear.
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on November 20, 2010
I expected a departure from the normal small group piano performance. And, yes, it is a different piano interpretation. Iyer maintains a high level of interest and expresses thoroughly different ideas.
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on May 26, 2013
I like Iyer's style and creativity. I find this album more enjoyable than his quartet recordings as it puts him more front and center.
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