Monday, October 15, 2018
Concert Review: The Vijay Iyer Sextet at the Gem Theater
At the outset of his performance at the Gem Theater on Sunday, Vijay Iyer told the 75 members of the audience that he had an out-of-body experience at the Mutual Musicians Foundation earlier in the day. For the next 90 minutes, my $20 ticket allowed me to travel over the moon and through the stars via the transporting sound of the all-star sextet led by one of the most decorated artists in jazz.
Initially slated to be held at the 8,000-seat Starlight Theatre as the third and final installment of the Open Spaces festival’s showcase concert series, weather considerations necessitated the change in location for the show’s headlining act. The brisk temperature and unrelenting precipitation were a blessing in disguise. Iyer drew about 250 people to his previous Kansas City appearance at the Folly Theater in 2012. A quintet led by Hermon Mehari opened Sunday’s show.
Profound, revelatory and experimental without ever seeming forced, the playing of keyboardist Iyer, Graham Haynes on flugelhorn and electronics, saxophonists Steve Lehman and Mark Shim, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Jeremy Dutton evoked the 90-year-old recordings of Louis Armstrong’s band even during the most adventurous explorations. Footage of the year’s most exemplary concert of improvised instrumental music streams here and here.
(Original images by Plastic Sax.)