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Vijay Iyer trio's Entrustment *****

Refraining from listening back to the original Vijay Iyer trio that first emerged on the ACT label is deliberate. I loved Historicity (2009), however, above all from those days but this is a new day. It is early still in the experiencing of Iyer's …

Published: 20 Mar 2021. Updated: 23 days.

Refraining from listening back to the original Vijay Iyer trio that first emerged on the ACT label is deliberate. I loved Historicity (2009), however, above all from those days but this is a new day. It is early still in the experiencing of Iyer's latest trio with only 'Children of Flint' which I liked and now 'Entrustment' from the new Uneasy available. 'Entrustment' I like even more from it, to me the piece sounds like an instant classic. Why so? Compositionally, sense of moment, interplay across the trio, a momentousness and more. Iyer is also entering deeper into the jazz cosmos on both tracks in the sense that his position within the canon is becoming clearer without avant trappings at all on this track.

The way Tyshawn Sorey above all punctuates the music rhythmically makes the trio distinctive. His use of mallets by the sound of it is quite distinctive and the way he emphasises the strong accents in a kind of padding-along-canter is unusual and keeps a lot of variety and interest throughout the trajectory of the piece. The decay after he uses cymbal that seeps into the pianism is beautifully recorded and adds urgency. There is a lot of coiled power in what he brings to the trio but it is more than that.

A lovely piece with approaching an Eastern scalar feel to the beginning and then a lot of development that delves into modal exploration harnessing a certain serenity and then eventually intensity. Not exactly a ballad, nor an elegy, I would call it a brooding meditation in nature. It's Iyer's most Ellingtonian statement in terms of poise and elegance within the compass of his own art.

There is a lapping, hypnotic, appeal to Iyer's lead piano part. The way he manipulates the elaborate trill at the beginning is one aspect of his playfulness and how he can command atmosphere and by the end of the piece there is a sense of the achieved state of tidal cascade that makes logical sense but can't be predicted as you listen.

Double bassist Linda May Han Oh is very understated. I guess it will be easier to determine her part on the better quality CD audio when that is available. However, her touch is very human and ideal in context. As mentioned in a previous post Uneasy out on 4 April besides Iyer originals includes a treatment of Geri Allen's 'Drummer's Song' and the standard 'Night and Day.' SG

Photo of Vijay Iyer: ECM

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Sting and Herbie Hancock duo

On Sting’s new album Duets this isn't the first time that Sting and Herbie Hancock have worked together nor is it this track's first release. Sting.com notes: ''Sting and Herbie Hancock first met in Paris in 1985, when Sting was performing at the …

Published: 20 Mar 2021. Updated: 31 days.

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On Sting’s new album Duets this isn't the first time that Sting and Herbie Hancock have worked together nor is it this track's first release. Sting.com notes: ''Sting and Herbie Hancock first met in Paris in 1985, when Sting was performing at the Mogador Theatre with the Blue Turtles band, including his longtime friend and collaborator Branford Marsalis.'' The song opens Sting’s 2005 compilation album My Funny Valentine – At The Movies. A couple of decades later the pair recorded together on Herbie's Possibilities (2005) interpreting Sting's 1980s-era Nothing Like the Sun song 'Sister Moon.'

Regarding the Rodgers and Hart song 'Valentine' first performed in 1937 by child star Mitzi Green, in terms of Herbie you must go to the classic Miles Davis album My Funny Valentine (1965) on which Herbie participates. By contrast on this duo synths at first shroud us. Sting on his vocal seems to be steering close to Chet Baker a tiny bit at least at the beginning and then navigates his own journey through the song. Herbie then on piano with the synth heard behind the piano line develops the accompaniment and he flicks to an almost Andalusian mode momentarily (36 second mark) in one interesting lick fleetingly deployed but proving highly effective.

Sting's vocal works very well. While he is very attuned to a jazz sensibility from his early pre-fame days in the north-east of England he isn't at all a natural jazz singer. (He was outshone completely in his recent 'Little Something' duet with Melody Gardot who actually is a jazz singer, although that whole subject is very subjective, however pop she goes.) Herbie's piano lines are exquisite and carry the duo. Against the odds it all works. Drummer Steve Jordan's use of cymbals come through firmly after the half-way mark and Herbie's main solo follows. Sting, top left, and Herbie Hancock