Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Fieldwork: Simulated Progress

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Fieldwork’s lineup is in flux. Pianist Vijay Iyer remains, but on Simulated Progress, the trio’s sophomore effort, alto/sopranino saxophonist Steve Lehman replaces tenorist Aaron Stewart. And since this September 2004 recording, Tyshawn Sorey has succeeded Elliot Humberto Kavee on drums. But personnel changes have not diminished Fieldwork’s power and coherence.

Coproduced by Scott Harding, Simulated Progress boasts four compositions by Iyer, four by Lehman and three by Kavee. The instrumentation calls to mind Tim Berne’s Hard Cell, although Fieldwork’s material is more varied in mood and texture. Iyer’s “Headlong,” the aggressive opener, segues abruptly into Kavee’s slower “Transgression.” On Lehman’s “Trips,” Kavee feigns turntable sounds and mines a fragmented hip-hop vibe. While it’s hard not to miss Aaron Stewart’s fevered eloquence, Lehman is undoubtedly an asset, as he generates most of the album’s sonic departures-check the echo effects on Iyer’s “Infogee Dub,” the Joe McPhee-like growls on Kavee’s “Gaudi” and the sopranino flights on Iyer’s “Transitions.”

Fieldwork’s rhythmic logic can be immensely involved, but the results are disarmingly concise (just under 49 minutes total, with only three tracks exceeding five minutes). The music is also rich in paradox: dark yet uplifting, intellectually demanding yet effortlessly funky.