Sunday, February 11, 2007

Vijay Iyer & Rudresh Mahanthappa - Raw Materials ****



These two musicians, Vijay Iyer on piano and Rudresh Mahanthappa on sax, seem to have been born for each other, and/or they have - after all these years of playing together - influenced each other to such an extent that they have created their own jazz sub-genre. On "Raw Materials" they bring this interplay back to its bare essentials, without bass or drums. And these are not really lacking when you listen to them play. The keyboard touch of Iyer is percussive enough, but Mahanthappa's sax is also capable of supporting the rhythm while Iyer gives a solo.
This is very intense music, with an incredible "drive", with a strong forward propulsion, splashing like a mountain river, thundering at times, with limited resting points. The rhythm can change various times within the same piece, and sometimes both players will accentuate different parts of the melody, resulting in their own kind of counter-rythm, until they fall back in a unisono melody. Both players are of the Karnataka region in southern India. Despite the inherent power in their play, they are at moments very lyrical and melodic, yet with a choice of notes which is often unusual, trying out new combinations, surprising and creative. Sometimes they give the impression of playing against each other ("I hear what you're doing, yet I'm still going in my direction") but then the whole thing comes togehter again. Beautiful. Emotional. Different. Recommended.