The Pittsburgh version of the City of Asylum, which assists writers in danger of persecution in their home countries, held its annual Jazz Poetry concert on Saturday in West Park on the North Side. It had a lot to compete with, with the Pirates playing and another party down the block, and, most notably, the rain.
Pianist Vijay Iyer brought his trio, which also comprised bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, to kick off the show, which started 20 minutes late. The trio offered dense, dissonant music, using a lot of block chords from Mr. Iyer, starting with “Nope” and moving on to “Mystery Woman,” and a couple of other tunes while playing about 30 minutes straight through. In addition, I couldn’t tell if their rendition of the Michael Jackson hit “Human Nature,” was supposed to swing or be played straight. “Starlings” shifted meters quite a bit, starting out in 7/4 and featuring a drum solo from Mr. Gilmore.
Nevertheless, the group got a standing ovation from the audience.