Vijay Iyer & Rudresh Mahanthappa and Haiti Benefit. London, March 2010.

I recently saw Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa at the Vortex. I had forgotten that Iyer was playing in duet – I have seen him before playing solo, as well as in bands. I hadn’t heard of Mahanthappabefore, but I thought they were excellent together. The alto playing went from Bird-like runs through wailing to staccato rhythms; Iyer’s piano was superb throughout. The music was very rhythmic, and seemed both highly improvised and strictly written, the two artists knowing precisely where they were in the pieces and what was going on whilst improvising lengthy solos. This was brilliant stuff.

Whilst there I briefly chatted to the two guys standing next to me; I recognised one as the critic John Fordham, and said that I read his pieces – I had to stop myself from adding “…and I disagree with most of them!” It was Fordham who pointed out how much of the music that night was based on written arrangements. The other guy next to Fordham was very quietly spoken, but he seemed to know most of the people in the venue – there was a stream of people coming up to say hi. He seemed friendly to everyone. I guessed he was a musician; it turns out he was a jazz dj, Kevin LeGendre – he hosted the Vortex’s benefit for Haiti.

The benefit was a varied evening, and I won’t go into all the different acts that played; but I did like some of the pictures I took…

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