10. Vijay Iyer Sextet: Far From Over (2017)
One of the most common perceptions of pianist Vijay Iyer is that his music is strongly cerebral, which may be why ECM seemed such a natural home for him when he signed there in 2014. However, any honest accounting of his music has to include the insistent percussion and raw fire of Far From Over, his third album for the label. The title track alone contains enough ferocity from all parties (saxophonists Steve Lehman and Mark Shim, cornetist Graham Haynes, bassist Stephan Crump, drummer Tyshawn Sorey, and perhaps especially Iyer himself) to put to bed any notion of intellect over emotion in the pianist’s music. But it’s not just the aggression; it’s the palpable sense of danger that comes with jittery pieces like “Down to the Wire” and “Good on the Ground.” Accomplished as Iyer and all of his musicians are, Far From Over carries the unmistakable feeling that they are at the edge of their abilities, and perhaps risking a tumble over that edge at any moment. It’s hard to imagine a better place to close out a survey of ECM’s best releases.