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2019 Highlight: Diatom Ribbons

There is a great sense of anarchy above all to Diatom Ribbons released back in October. Her name has been on many scene watchers' lips for years and yet to many fans Kris Davis is still completely unknown. Figure that one. I'd still like to hear the

Published: 16 Dec 2019. Updated: 16 months.

There is a great sense of anarchy above all to Diatom Ribbons released back in October. Her name has been on many scene watchers' lips for years and yet to many fans Kris Davis is still completely unknown. Figure that one. I'd still like to hear the Sugar Blade band live for starters given how compelling that record featuring Davis, Steve Davis (no relation) and Ralph Alessi was.

Here the pianist is on sprawlingly incendiary form, the album includes spoken word and a version of 'Reflections' by Julius Hemphill who also happens to be a big influence on Tim Berne.

The line-up is a who's who of the most creative improvisers anywhere and includes Esperanza Spalding, JD Allen, Tony Malaby, Marc Ribot and Terri Lyne Carrington.

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Vijay Iyer to play Belfast

January will see an extremely rare opportunity for Belfast jazz fans to hear Vijay Iyer playing the city. Even better he will play solo. Iyer manages to unleash a sense of pure improvisatory abstraction that can cross over into the realms of …

Published: 16 Dec 2019. Updated: 16 months.

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January will see an extremely rare opportunity for Belfast jazz fans to hear Vijay Iyer playing the city. Even better he will play solo.

Iyer manages to unleash a sense of pure improvisatory abstraction that can cross over into the realms of contemporary classical music as well as responding to the historical demands of jazz piano.

In terms of the latter he almost brought the house down a distant December night at the Vortex in 2010 with his still, crepuscular interpretation of Bubber Miley and Duke Ellington’s ‘Black and Tan Fantasy.'

Iyer seemed back then to have moved beyond the MBASE-isms that characterised him early in his career and instead played without the scaffolding of set routines and signature licks. Iyer told the packed room in Dalston that evening that he sometimes felt as if he was alone with his heroes, as he talked about first of all Monk, having earlier playing the spring-loaded ‘Epistrophy’, or Sun Ra, from the “planet Saturn” or as he deadpanned “also Alabama.”

Like the best improvisers the east coast American, of south Indian heritage, is worth hearing over and over again because every time the experience is radically different given the way his research, listening and compositional approaches then fully alter his performance ideas time after time.

Nowadays a high profile ECM-signed artist most clubs or even slightly bigger capacity venues cannot afford his fees so he generally plays concert halls. Nine years ago on the cusp of going supernova in jazz terms capped by also becoming a professor at Harvard he had played the Vortex for the third time in 2010 alone and for a top experimental jazz club was clearly a perfect artist in terms of appeal. Belfast has had to wait a long time to host Iyer. What an inspiring start to 2020 for the local jazz scene to experience at close quarters.
13 January, Sonic Lab. Tickets.