Iyer and Leo Smith by John Rogers
Vijay Iyer - Wadada Leo Smith
Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith   Photo: John Rogers

Impressionistic and meditative, but also fascinating and captivating.

When Vijay Iyer and the exceptional trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith - who visited the Jazz with his first concert ever in Norway last summer - collaborated to record A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke for ECM, it was not the first time they had worked together. 

Iyer calls the 30-year old Leo Smith his "hero, friend and mentor," and he also played in Leo Smith's Golden Quartet for a period of time before his career took off. It is thus easy to see that these two have a special mutual understanding of each other when they play together.

A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke is an album consisting of a suite in seven parts written for and inspired by the Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi and her peculiar, seemingly simple line drawings that, according to art critics, have abilities to bring out the maximum from the minimum. Something similar can be said about the music Iyer and Leo Smith make together, where Iyer's performance on piano and synthesizer can be said to set a mood that Leo Smith clears with his shrill trumpet tones forming phonic lines and patterns over. But the performance also allows these two layers to overlap now and then, producing striking results.

Their music is impressionistic and meditative, but also fascinating and captivating. The release was very well received when it came out last spring and was in the top 10 in NPR's 2016 Jazz Critics Poll, and there were a lot of talks about the concerts they held together afterwards, the latest being an European tour in January 2017.

Vijay Iyer: piano, electronics
Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet