zaterdag 5 maart 2011

Vijay Iyer - Tirtha ***



Pianist Vijay Iyer is one of the most fascinating young jazz musicians of recent years. He is the son of Indian immigrants but is a real American, since he was raised in the US from early childhood. In his recorded work, his Indian roots were not really obvious, until now. As Iyer himself stated in his liner notes to previous cd's, he was very much influenced by his tutor Andrew Hill, and by the likes of Alice Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and even Sun Ra. Their musical traces can be heard especially in his solo piano cd of last year, a brilliant one as you hopefully know by now.
But here, on this third outing on the superb German Act-label, Iyer gives an insight in what his Indian parentage means to him. More than in his own pianoplaying, the sound of India is very prominent by his choice of partners on this cd: Prasanna (born in Chennai/Madras) on guitar and Nittin Mitta (of Hyderabad) on tabla.
The tabla is of course an Indian percussion instrument, so the Asian flavour it delivers is inevitable. But Prasanna's electric guitar, with those very eastern sounding bended notes, is even more Indian. It is Iyer who makes this music a crossing between Indian music and jazz. Tirtha hence combines the best of these worlds. This is a strange combination of hardbop and raga. Let's call it world jazzfusion or something.
The result probably isn't as strong as Iyer's Historicity and Solo albums, but it's surely the work of three great artists.
Peter  

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