by Nick Stubblefield
In his still-young career, Vijay Iyer has amassed an impressive set of credentials, and is known for pushing creative boundaries beyond what's generally accepted as jazz. Personally, I'd heard little of Vijay's music before, so when I stepped into the Jazz Standard to catch his trio last Wednesday, I had little idea of what to expect. To Iyer's credit, he makes music unlike any I've ever heard.
Iyer was joined on stage, as usual, by Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. Crump was the standout, giving a high-energy, all-in performance -- a contrast to Iyer's somewhat-rigid performance style: clean, precise, calculated. He stuck to his own post-modern material, never falling back on standards that casual jazz fans might be familiar with. It was experimental, in the best sense of the word.
The night began with a playful, highly syncopated work, with plenty of interplay between Iyer and Crump. Despite odd meters and unpredictable rhythms, the piece grooved hard. In fact, much of the program was filled with toe-thumping grooves.