Opening the iTunes Store.If iTunes doesn't open, click the iTunes application icon in your Dock or on your Windows desktop.Progress Indicator
Opening the iBooks Store.If iBooks doesn't open, click the iBooks app in your Dock.Progress Indicator

iTunes is the world's easiest way to organize and add to your digital media collection.

We are unable to find iTunes on your computer. To preview and buy music from A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke by Vijay Iyer & Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, download iTunes now.

Already have iTunes? Click I Have iTunes to open it now.

I Have iTunes Free Download
iTunes for Mac + PC

A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke

Open iTunes to preview, buy, and download music.

Album Review

In his liner notes to A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke, pianist/electronicist Vijay Iyer writes that while working in trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet/Quintet between 2005 and 2010, the pair often became "a unit within a unit." Evidenced by Tabligh in 2008 and Golden Quintet's half of the 2009 double-disc Spiritual Dimensions, this album (marking the trumpeter's first appearance on ECM in more than two decades) underscores that assertion via distillation. It is one of essences. It reveals the intricacies of music-making according to principles of instinct as well as close listening. Iyer's opening "Passage" is a surprise. The pianist's gently investigatory chords and thematic harmonics offer the hallmarks of a chamber piece. Smith illuminates them with expressive songlike statements, though more insistent staccato speech occurs near the end as Iyer builds to an implied crescendo. The majority of the album is claimed by the title work, a seven-part suite inspired by the drawings of the late Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi. Its various sections offer a complete portrait of how deep and wide this duo can go. "All Become Alive" offers Smith's bleating, sometimes fragmented high notes. Iyer offers quiet, gently pulsing electronic backdrops, a simple keyboard bassline, and eventually a piano solo that alternately moves along a line that weds jazz balladry and lieder to modal improvisation before the trumpeter reenters to combine and sum. "Labyrinths" is more abstract, choppy, and kinetic. It is a quick-thinking conversation that offers breathtaking exchanges, not only back and forth, but through the moment. At the album's heart is "A Divine Courage." Introduced by the subtlest of electronic bass/drone pulses, Smith doesn't enter for nearly a full minute, giving the impression he is coming from silence. When he does, it's with halting yet fully formed lyric statements. (One briefly quotes Miles Davis from "Saeta" on Sketches of Spain.) As the intensity of the bass pulse slowly increases, Smith responds with expanded lyricism, played straight from the heart. Eventually Iyer's piano enters to frame it with droning middle-register chords and single notes. "A Cold Fire" commences with the pianist rumbling in the low register, alternately cascading notes and chords. Smith balances force and nuance in his playing, adding flow to the immense energy in their interplay. "Notes on Water" closes the suite with a moody ballad that could stand alone from it. Iyer's Rhodes piano shines darkly underneath the carefully articulated blues and angular shapes in Smith's playing. The trumpeter's "Marian Anderson" bookends the album in a resonant assertion of tribute. Iyer's care in responding highlights sometimes quizzical elucidations in the melody, moving the tune toward the unknown. It is the perfect consummation for A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke. The instincts these players offer in these works display the duo's mutual desire for intimate communication and spiritual trust through the medium of sound. Their uncompromising movement toward them results in a shared musical mind that speaks in a distinctive, unique emotional language.


Born: October 26, 1971 in Albany, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Born in 1971 to parents who emigrated from India to the U.S. in the '60s, Bay Area-based composer and pianist Vijay Iyer has led several distinct combos, including Spirit Complex, the Poisonous Prophets, and the Vijay Iyer Trio. All three groups appeared on the musician's 1995 debut on Asian Improv, Memorophilia, a collection fusing jazz forms with the rhythms of South Asian music. In addition to working to create interactive software for improvised musical performance, Iyer worked frequently with...
Full Bio
A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke, Vijay Iyer
View in iTunes
  • $11.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Rock, Avant-Garde Jazz
  • Released: Mar 11, 2016

Customer Ratings