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Break Stuff

Compact Disc (Audio)
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Jewel Case
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Break Stuff
Break Stuff


Vijay Iyer's long-running and widely-acclaimed trio with bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, a band in existence since 2003, makes its ECM album debut.

'Break Stuff' is what happens after formal elements have been addressed. Vijay Iyer calls the break "a span of time in which to act. It's the basis for breakdowns, breakbeats, and break dancing... it can be the moment when everything comes to life." A number of the pieces are breakdowns of other Iyer constructions. Some are from a suite premiered at New York's Museum of Modern Art, some, focusing on birds of New York, derive from 'Open City', a collaboration with novelist Teju Cole and large ensemble.

The trio energetically recasts everything it touches. "Hood" is a tribute to Detroit techno pioneer Robert Hood. On "Work", Vijay pays homage to his "number one hero", Thelonious Monk. "Countdown" reconsiders the classic Coltrane tune inside a rhythmic framework inspired by West African music. "Mystery Woman" is driven by compound pulses which owe a debt to South Indian drumming. Fast moving and quick-witted, the group has developed a strong musical identity of its own, with an emphasis on what Iyer calls "co-constructing", exploring all the dynamics of playing together. Yet the three players also get abundant solo space and, in a reflective moment, Iyer plays a moving version of Billy Strayhorn's "Blood Count" alone.

Recorded in June 2014 at New York's Avatar Studio and produced by Manfred Eicher, 'Break Stuff' is the third ECM release from Vijay Iyer. It follows the chamber music recording 'Mutations' and the film-and-music project 'Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi'.

Personnel: Vijay Iyer (piano), Stephan Crump (double bass), Marcus Gilmore (drums)


  1. Name
  2. Starlings
  3. Chorale
  4. Diptych
  5. Hood
  6. Work
  7. Taking Flight
  8. Blood Count
  9. Break Stuff
  10. Mystery Woman
  11. Geese
  12. Countdown
  13. Wrens
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