Vijay Iyer Trio, Accelerando

Britt Robson

By Britt Robson

on 05.31.12 in Reviews
A source of rippling power and resplendent beauty

Let’s not mince words: Accelerando is a source of rippling power and resplendent beauty that deserves to be called a masterpiece. (Except I suspect that Iyer, who recorded this a month before his 40th birthday, might top it on some future project.) As with the acclaimed, chart-topping Historicity in 2009, the pianist leads his trio through a stimulating collection that blends sharp originals and a surprisingly disparate array of cover tunes, from Heatwave to Herbie Nichols to the Thriller track, “Human Nature.” But in the nearly three years between the discs, the trio has been able to turbo-charge the force of their ensemble collective, without sacrificing the depth of their interactions. There are magnificent stretches throughout Accelerando — the rising to crescendo of the last half of “Optimism,” much of Henry Threadgill’s agile and agitated “Little Pocket Sized Demons,” the title track, and Iyer’s “Actions Speak,” among others — where the effect is like a rock power trio along the lines of Cream or The Who, but using the language of jazz, and with a piano instead of a guitar. Iyer’s two-handed chordal phrasings are cavernous, anthemic and intensely personal — he says he wants his music to be visceral, and he succeeds in spades here. Bassist Stephen Crump is a great enabler of intensity — his plucking (especially “Wildflower” and “Little Pocket Sized Demons”) and bowing (“Accelerando”) are brusque and bristling with contagious energy. Masterful drummer Marcus Gilmore keeps time and regulates the current with aplomb and unerringly good judgment. Accelerando feels like a unified magnum opus: The opening “Bode” pleasantly ushers you in, and the closing “The Village of the Virgins” carries the amiable goodwill of a benediction. In between is a wild, wonderful ride.