22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Jazz evolution, continued.,
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This review is from: Tirtha (Audio CD)
In keeping with Whitney Balliet's credo about the sound of surprise - the whole album keeps you in a heightened sense of anticipation throughout - both within and across different tunes. I've followed Vijay Iyer since his Bay Area emergence, and Prasanna since forever, from back in Chennai when he would hold college crowds in thrall. The song forms and directions that Iyer and Prasanna choose, are closest to Indian music (particularly Carnatic). All tunes are full of intertwined, complex, independently developing thoughts where you can just as easily focus on one at a time or step back and hear the striking union of these ideas. However, they're unmistakably jazz in the comping choices that Iyer and Prasanna make throughout. Mitta grounds all this with simpatico playing that is in the end, melodic more than anything else - which is the way all Indian mridangam and tabla masters are taught to approach their instruments. There are too many attention grabbing passages throughout - from the polyrhythmic opening of duality, to the odd-meter but very palpable groove of tribal wisdom, and the grandeur of the title tune, as well as the pallavi-influenced elasticity of 'entropy and time'. Prasanna has by now mastered the seemingly impossible art of fitting raga phraseology into very tight harmonic spaces (as evidenced in the head of nearly every tune), while Iyer clearly knows and relishes the rhythmic possibilities of carnatic music in his liberal use of korvais throughout. the best part about all this, is that it sounds utterly, convincingly new and unlike anything i've heard in the recent past. Here's hoping for more from them!