Vijay Iyer Sextet FIMAV, Victoriaville QC, May 18
Published May 19, 2019Pianist Vijay Iyer is at that point in his career, just past 40 years old, where his status as a promising new voice is near fully mutated into guiding light of the new jazz scene. From that position, Iyer displays the near perfect blend of respect for the history, and invention to build upon it. His sextet is made up of wildly skilled fellow travelers whose musical presence lit up the Victoriaville night.
Playing mainly from their 2017 ECM release, Far From Over, Iyer and company built an uninterrupted performance that flowed like water over iridescent stones. The multiply-jointed backbone of the group were bassist Stephan Crump and monster drummer Tyshawn Sorey, who together turned out more hidden pockets than a vintage Times Square trench coat.
Saxophonists Mark Shim and Steve Lehman, on tenor and alto respectively, were excellent foils, the former more loose and fluid, the latter more technical and studied, their blended sound created a third less obvious flavour for the mix. They were rounded out to a trio by the eldest member of the sextet, Graham Haynes on cornet, bugle and electronics, whose presence and play created an obvious bridge between past and future.
Some of the best moments came during a section where the horn players took an extended leave from the stage, allowing Iyer and his rhythm section seemingly limitless room to move. The trio took full advantage, carving grooves into the stage deep enough to plant seeds. If this is the space from which the new crop of jazz springs, it promises to be a ridiculously wonderful yield.