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Vijay Iyer - 'Far From Over'

Brian Kiwanuka
Contributing Writer

There has always been an air of adventure about his music, but since Vijay Iyer has started releasing records on ECM, the acclaimed pianist has really been exploring. Iyer's ECM debut came in the form of the hard left turn that was Mutations in 2014 - the only Iyer album which features him composing for a string quartet. In his 2015 ECM release he reconnected his long-running trio with Stephan Crump (bass) and Marcus Gilmore (drums) to create an extremely rhythmically interesting album that may the group's best work yet in Break Stuff. Last year, he followed Break Stuff with a fantastic album that was built for the pristine, ethereal aesthetic of ECM production, the airy and experimental avant-garde collaboration with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke. A cursory listen to any of these releases side by side will reveal that, aside from the presence of Iyer himself, the only thing that they really have in common is that they are all radically different from each other. On Iyer's latest ECM release, he continues the trend of difference, trading the sparse duo format for a powerful sextet that includes Crump (bass), Tyshawn Sorey (drums), Graham Haynes (cornet, flugelhorn, electronics), Mark Shim (tenor saxophone) and Steve Lehman (alto saxophone). After a few listens to Far From Over, it is clear that the Vijay Iyer Sextet has released a fascinating record that has the potential to be remembered as one of the pianist's grandest achievements.