Music Review | posted 22.03.2016
Vijay Iyer / Wadada Leo Smith
A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke
ECM, 2016
Text Tim Caspar Boehme , Translation Julia Frohn
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Cover Vijay Iyer / Wadada Leo Smith - A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke

The title may appear quite esoteric at first glance but that is not to disturb us, considering that this intimate summit between pianist Vijay Iyer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith has a calm pulse that could just as well be described as »a cosmic rhythm«. However, this is only one of many possible pictures, which might arise while listening to this album. »A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke«, the record’s center piece, is a suite of seven parts. Its arch of tension makes us think of a major composition, even though the track was actually recorded during an impro-session in the studios. Many passages come along as almost impressionistic, although Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith listening to one another does not only lead to quick and keen reactions but also to trying to fathom the sound created as a duo. Smith’s trumpet sound moves in the smallest of nuances, from crystal clear via discreetly raspy all the way to repressed in the most controlled manner. Iyer, on the other hand, counters with accords moving from bell-like sounds to roughly hammered ones, exchanging his piano with a Fender Rhodes every now and then. Sometimes, they even add some sparse electro sounds, and in between, they leave the underlying sentiment of composure in order to explore a dramatically moving thicket, like in »A Cold Fire«. The track can be considered the record’s climax, after which they return to calmness once again. Of course, words like »sublime« should be used sparingly; however, it’s more than fitting for the encounter between Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith.

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