Vijay Iyer, Linda May Han Oh, Tyshawn Sorey
Pianist-composer Vijay Iyer follows his acclaimed 2021 ECM disc Uneasy — the first to showcase his trio featuring bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Tyshawn Sorey — with Compassion, another creative leap in league with these two gifted partners. The New York Times captured the distinctive qualities of this group, pointing to the trio’s flair for playing “with a lithe range of motion and resplendent clarity… while stoking a kind of writhing internal tension. Crucial to that balance is their ability to connect with each other almost telepathically.” Compassion, Iyer’s eighth release as a leader for ECM, continues his drive to explore fresh territory while also referencing his forebears along the way, two of them long associated with the label. The album includes a powerful interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed,” which Iyer selected as an indirect homage to the late Chick Corea. Another tip of the hat comes with “Nonaah,” a whirlwind of a piece by avant-garde sage Roscoe Mitchell, a key mentor for the pianist.
Then there are Iyer’s own melodically alluring, rhythmically invigorating compositions, ranging from the pensive title track to the hook-laced highlights “Tempest” and “Ghostrumental.”
The New Yorker, in its review of Uneasy, described that album as “a triumph of small-group interchange and fertile invention. Iyer’s piano work, whether arrestingly skittish or clothed in powerful solemnity, resounds with a visceral intensity of purpose, and his resourceful compatriots respond in kind.” As with Uneasy, the trio recorded Compassion at Oktaven Audio in Mount Vernon just outside New York City, with the album produced by Iyer and ECM’s Manfred Eicher. The result is a sonic blend of warmth and impact, atmosphere and clarity — ideal for appreciating the propulsive interplay that has developed with this pianist, bassist and drummer. Although this is only the second album by the trio, the three musicians have been connected for longer.
5. Prelude: Orison
9. Where I Am
11. It Goes
12. Free Spirits / Drummer's Song