Revered for his solo outings and collaborations with fellow rising star, and saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa among others, the pianist endows a distinct aura to the historical jazz piano trio format. Marked by unequivocal emotive aspects, framed on verve and the scintillating group-centric vibe, Iyer executes an oscillating string of events that moves rapidly, like the swiftly changing environment we inhabit. With expansive and explosive sub-themes, his briskly enacted progressions and rhythmically charged block chords ride atop the rhythm section’s buoyantly powerful undercurrents.
The album features a potpourri of Iyer original comps while covering works by pianist Andrew Hill, Stevie Wonder and other notables. And he renders a mesmeric and swirling take on the late, influential saxophonist/composer Julius Hemphill’s piece "Dogon A.D. Here, the trio morphs a staggered rock pulse into a hammering and uncannily eloquent muse, counterbalanced by bassist Stephan Crump’s weeping, arco-bass lines. They project moments of despair and praise, while conveying mobility throughout.
The band is apt to hammer a primary theme into submission, or lower the temperature with memorably melodic intervals. At times busy, yet purposeful, evidenced on saxophonist Ronnie Foster’s "Mystic Brew (Trixation Version)," where Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore lay down a pulsating straight-four rock beat. The pianist complements and counters with a bluesy, laid-back groove, followed by cascading chord developments and increasing intensity.
Iyer is a master inventor and spins new propositions on the roads frequently travelled. The artist tenders an insightful program, teeming with thrills a minute while attaining an equal balance of structure and improvisation. Moreover, the trio’s rocketing impetus comprise moments of grace, sophistication and sheer firepower. It’s cunning, exclusive, heady, and highly-entertaining, sort of like an action-packed movie thriller.