Vijay Iyer's Reimagining is a fine album and one of the biggest releases yet from the revitalized Savoy Jazz label. Savoy has brought out discs from several distinguished artists over the last couple of years, and in signing the pianist Iyer they have added a brilliant player that seems to be squarely in his music-making prime. Reimagining is a cauldron of moods and styles, Iyer and associates keeping the music simmering but never allowing it to boil over.
Iyer's composing and playing is somewhat difficult to describe in reductionist terms. "Revolutions," for example, begins with the pianist playing a short, simple figure repeatedly a la Glass or Reich. But Iyer is no minimalist; with Marcus Gilmore's syncopation and Stephan Crumb's forceful bass leading the way, the tune soon modulates into more familiar jazz territory, with Rudresh Mahanthrappa's busy but sweet-toned alto saxophone cresting on top. Echoes of Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and McCoy Tyner are all audible at times and to varying degrees in his playing, but Iyer's style is unique and well-developed.
Iyer gives us nine originals and caps the set off with a highly personalized solo reading of John Lennon's "Imagine." There is a lot going on on each track of this record. Iyer's compositions are full of counterpoints, and members of the quartet run with them. It takes repeated listening to sort through everything that's going on, and it is well worth the effort to do so. Reimagining is a brilliant effort from Vijay Iyer and a coup for Savoy Jazz.