Vijay Iyer

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Grammy-nominated composer-pianist VIJAY IYER (pronounced “VID-jay EYE-yer”) was described by Pitchfork as "one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today," by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star,” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.” He has been voted DownBeat Magazine's Artist of the Year three times - in 2016, 2015 and 2012. Iyer was named Downbeat’s 2014 Pianist of the Year, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, and a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist. In 2014 he began a permanent appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in the Department of Music at Harvard University. 
The New York Times observes, “There’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer.” Iyer has released twenty albums covering remarkably diverse terrain, most recently for the ECM label. The latest include Far From Over (2017), the first record from the Vijay Iyer Sextet; A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (2016), a collaboration with Iyer’s “hero, friend and teacher,” Wadada Leo Smith, which the Los Angeles Times calls “haunting, meditative and transportive”; Break Stuff (2015), with a coveted five-star rating in DownBeat Magazine, featuring the Vijay Iyer Trio, hailed by PopMatters as “the best band in jazz”; Mutations (2014), featuring Iyer’s music for piano, string quartet and electronics, which “extends and deepens his range… showing a delicate, shimmering, translucent side of his playing” (Chicago Tribune); and Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi (2014), “his most challenging and impressive work, the scintillating score to a compelling film by Prashant Bhargava” (DownBeat), performed by International Contemporary Ensemble and released on DVD and BluRay. 
Iyer’s trio (Iyer, piano; Marcus Gilmore, drums; Stephan Crump, bass) made its name with two tremendously acclaimed and influential albums, Accelerando (2012) and Historicity (2009). Accelerando was voted #1 Jazz Album of the Year for 2012 in three separate critics polls surveying hundreds of critics worldwide, hosted by DownBeat, Jazz Times, and Rhapsody, respectively, and also was chosen as jazz album of the year by NPR, the Los Angeles Times, PopMatters, and The Vijay Iyer Trio was named 2015 Jazz Group of the year in the DownBeat International Critics Poll, with Iyer having earlier received an unprecedented “quintuple crown” in the 2012 Downbeat Poll (winning Jazz Artist of the Year, Pianist of the Year, Jazz Album of the Year, Jazz Group of the Year, and Rising Star Composer categories), as well as a “quadruple crown” in the JazzTimes extended critics poll (winning Artist of the Year, Acoustic/Mainstream Group of the Year, Pianist of the Year, and Album of the Year). Iyer received the 2012 and 2013 Pianist of the Year Awards and the 2010 Musician of the Year Award from the Jazz Journalists Association, and the 2013 ECHO Award (the “German Grammy”) for best international pianist.  Historicity was a 2010 Grammy Nominee for Best Instrumental Jazz Album, and was named #1 Jazz Album of 2009 in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Detroit Metro Times, National Public Radio,, the Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll, and the Downbeat International Critics Poll, and the trio won the 2010 ECHO Award for best international ensemble.
Iyer’s 2013 collaboration with poet Mike Ladd, Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project, based on the dreams of veterans of color from America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was hailed as #1 Jazz Album of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and described in JazzTimes as “impassioned, haunting, [and] affecting.” Along with their previous projects In What Language? (2004) and Still Life with Commentator (2007), Holding It Down rounded out a trilogy of politically searing albums about post-9/11 American life.  These projects were hailed as “unfailingly imaginative and significant” JazzTimes) and praised for their “powerful narrative invention and ravishing trance-jazz... an eloquent tribute to the stubborn, regenerative powers of the human spirit” (Rolling Stone). Iyer's accomplishments extend well beyond his recordings.  His recent composer commissions include “Playlist for an Extreme Occasion” (2012) written for Silk Road Ensemble (and released on their 2013 album A Playlist without Borders); “Dig The Say,” written for Brooklyn Rider and released on their 2014 album Almanac; “Mozart Effects” (2011) and “Time, Place, Action” (2014) for Brentano String Quartet; “Bruits” (2014) for Imani Winds and pianist Cory Smythe; “Rimpa Transcriptions” (2012) written for Bang on a Can All-Stars; “UnEasy” (2011) commissioned by NYC’s Summerstage in collaboration with choreographer Karole Armitage; “Three Fragments” (2011) for Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society. 
His orchestral work Interventions was commissioned and premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in 2007 under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies.  It was praised by The New York Times as “all spiky and sonorous,” and by the Philadelphia City Paper for its “heft and dramatic vision and a daring sense of soundscape.” Other works include Mutations I-X (2005) commissioned and premiered by the string quartet ETHEL; “Three Episodes for Wind Quintet” (1999) written for Imani Winds; a “ravishing” (Variety) score for the original theater/dance work Betrothed (2007); the award-winning film score for Teza (2008) by legendary filmmaker Haile Gerima; a suite of acoustic jazz cues for the sports channel ESPN (2009); and the prize-winning audiovisual installation Release (2010) in collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison. Forthcoming commissions include pieces for Jennifer Koh, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and So Percussion. His concert works are published by Schott Music. An active electronic musician and producer, Iyer displays his digital audio artistry on his own recordings Still Life with Commentator, Holding it Down, Mutations, and Radhe Radhe, and in his remixes for British Asian electronica pioneer Talvin Singh, Islamic punk band The Kominas, and composer-performer Meredith Monk.
Iyer was voted the 2010 Musician of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, and named one of 2011’s “50 Most Influential Global Indians” by GQ India. Other honors include the Greenfield Prize, the Alpert Award in the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, the India Abroad Publisher’s Special Award for Excellence, and numerous critics’ prizes. 
Iyer’s many collaborators include creative music pioneers Steve Coleman, Wadada Leo Smith, Roscoe Mitchell, Butch Morris, George Lewis, Amina Claudine Myers, William Parker, Graham Haynes, Miya Masaoka, Pamela Z, John Zorn; next-generation artists Rudresh Mahanthappa, Rez Abbasi, Craig Taborn, Ambrose Akinmusire, Liberty Ellman, Steve Lehman, Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey; Dead Prez, DJ Spooky, Himanshu Suri of Das Racist, High Priest of Antipop Consortium, DJ Val Jeanty, Karsh Kale, Suphala, Imani Uzuri, and Talvin Singh; filmmakers Haile Gerima, Prashant Bhargava, and Bill Morrison; choreographer Karole Armitage; and poets Mike Ladd, Amiri Baraka, Charles Simic, and Robert Pinsky.
A polymath whose career has spanned the sciences, the humanities, and the arts, Iyer received an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in the cognitive science of music from the University of California, Berkeley. He has published in Journal of Consciousness Studies, Wire, Music Perception, JazzTimes, Journal of the Society for American Music, Critical Studies in Improvisation, in the anthologies Arcana IV, Sound Unbound, Uptown Conversation, The Best Writing on Mathematics: 2010, and in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies. Iyer has taught at Manhattan School of Music, New York University, and the New School, and he is the Director of The Banff Centre’s International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, an annual 3-week program in Alberta, Canada. Iyer has served as Director of the International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music at The Banff Centre since 2013. He has been featured as Artist-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Wigmore Hall (London), the Molde Jazz Festival (Molde, Norway), SF Jazz, and Jazz Middelheim (Antwerp, Belgium), and served as Music Director for the 2017 Ojai Music Festival in southern California. He is a Steinway artist and uses Ableton Live software.
“Trailblazing… one of his generation’s brightest jazz luminaries” - Time Out New York
“Presto! Here is the great new jazz piano trio.”  - The New York Times
“One of the world’s most inventive new-generation jazz pianists” – Guardian (UK)
“[one of] today’s most important pianists... extravagantly gifted... brilliantly eclectic”
– The New Yorker
“The Vijay Iyer Trio has the potential to alter the scope, ambition and language of jazz piano forever.” - Jazzwise (UK)
“One of the best in the world at what he does” – Pitchfork





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Discography | Vijay Iyer on

Vijay Iyer Sextet – Far From Over  (2017) — August 13, 2017, Something Else
"Finally recording a three-horn sextet that he had first convened and performed with live at least since 2011, Far From Over (August 25, 2017, ECM Records) signals a logical new direction for the pianist, composer and recipient of MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant."
Q&A | 29 Questions For Vijay Iyer — August 1, 2017, Musical Toronto
"At the forefront of today’s jazz pianists, Vijay Iyer’s creative output combines disparate domains in a contemporised package. A 2013 MacArthur Fellow, his career spans the humanities, the sciences, and the arts: Iyer holds a Ph.D in cognitive musical science, and is a professor at Harvard University’s Department of Music."
On the Record with Pianist Vijay Iyer — April 14, 2017, Oberlin Review
Jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer visits Oberlin to attend a workshop performance of Trouble, his new violin concerto, ahead of its world premiere in June.
Music For The Heart And Mind From Pianist Vijay Iyer — March 29, 2017, The National, Abu Dabi
Over the years I have asked ­numerous jazz musicians the same question: what goes through your mind when ­improvising? No one has ever answered with the same illuminating insight as Vijay Iyer,
an American pianist repeatedly ranked among the best improvisers of his generation, who will perform concerts at NYU Abu Dhabi tomorrow and on Friday.

Vijay Iyer at Sanders Theatre — March 20, 2017, The Bay State Banner 
Iyer prefers the term “creative music” to jazz; but he is rooted in its fundamentals, including its consolation and uplift, improvisational give-and-take and syncopated rhythms.


"Iyer was voted top Jazz Artist in the Critics Poll, marking the third time he has won the honor, following wins in 2012 and 2015."

Weaving the dreams of veterans with music, poetry to translate experience of warMay 30, 2016, News Works

“[Vijay] Iyer and Ladd found the stories less told, less known and focused on what interested them, the experiences of people of color before and after the military.”

Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith: A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke ReviewMay 17, 2016, Stereophile

“I’ve listened to this album several times now, and it’s growing on me with each play.”

Vijay Iyer talks Improvisation and Basketball - Wisconsin Public Radio NPR, April 28, 2016
You could make a strong case that improvisation is the essence of jazz. But to hear jazz pianist Vijay Iyer tell it, improvising is something we all do, even if we aren’t musicians.

"Iyer and Smith both understand that the duo dynamic is nothing like the one involving two or three more musicians, especially when so much of the music relies on instinct, and both musicians are supremely trustful of their own instincts. Manipulating tone, passion and space with ample amount of empathy, a cosmic rhythm with each stroke is a meditative meeting of masters where each of the participants reach deep inside themselves to make this music."
"A trumpet/piano duo is a tough call, but the two operate with a charismatic delicacy and subtle force. The centrepiece is a largely improvised seven-part suite dedicated to Indian visual artist Nasreen Mohamedi. "
"Both Iyer and Smith perform exquisitely throughout (and yes, Manfred Eicher's clear production captures them perfectly), but also apply their notes, chords, solo flourishes and textures with intellectual aplomb and emotional potency. This is music from the heart performed by the brain, which is, as I consider my ECM collection, perhaps the best way to summarise the label's aesthetic."
"On Sunday, as the audience discussed the violence at the Trump rally, Vijay Iyer’s work with writer Teju Cole seemed to sum up the fearful mood"
"London’s The Wigmore Hall, an established home of Chamber Music, has announced U.S pianist and composer Vijay Iyer as the next Jazz Artist in Residence. Iyer is the fourth to take on this role following the incumbent Chrisian McBride, Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau and will be in place from January 2017."
"Vijay Iyer's jazz vision."
"A group of jazz musicians with a distinctly South Asian inflection, will be heard at Asia Society in Manhattan performing a new sound that combines Carnatic music and western jazz. Their program will be webcast live to reach a wider audience Jan. 23.”"
" 2. Vijay Iyer Trio - “Break Stuff” Working with bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, pianist-composer (and MacArthur “genius” and Harvard prof) Iyer has fully incorporated electronica and hip-hop into the jazz vocabulary. Despite the album’s odd, layered meters, you couldn’t ask for a more swinging version of Thelonious Monk’s “Work,” or a more delicate, moving solo-piano treatment of Billy Strayhorn’s “Blood Count.”"
LA Times: Best of 2015 - December 11, 2015
"Another year, another prime example of pianist Vijay Iyer expanding the piano trio's potential. Here, songs by Billy Strayhorn, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane sit comfortably alongside Iyer's unique compositional voice, including the striking "Hood," which pays tribute to minimalist techno DJ and producer Robert Hood with a tangled valentine to the propulsive vitality of rhythm."
"Break Stuff" wins German Record Critics' Album of the Year prize (Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik) - December, 2015
"The jury statement says: "Filigree ramifications and powerplay, high speed and slowness, harmony bliss and dissonance: out of contrasting elements the Vijay Iyer Trio shapes intense compositions, which draw from the history of jazz as well as from European concert music."" (Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik website.)
"Vijay Iyer’s “Break Stuff” (ECM) featured the pianist at his best, leading his bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore through a program that emphasized original compositions but also made room for standards such as Billy Strayhorn’s “Blood Count.”."
"6. Vijay Iyer Trio, "Break Stuff" (ECM) A return to form for the restless piano genius."
Vijay Iyer named Artist of the Year and Vijay Iyer Trio named Group of the Year.
"It’s no wonder the pianist is getting more recognition as one of the great new innovators on the jazz scene – a reputation well-earned last night."
"Pianist Vijay Iyer, 43, is probably the most visible member among the group of South Asian-American musicians who have established themselves as leaders in the contemporary jazz world."
"It takes years of arduous practice to become effortlessly spontaneous, the jazzman Vijay Iyer discovered."
"Hailed as “one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today,” the Grammy-nominated composer-pianist discusses his new album, "Break Stuff.""
"Vijay Iyer, one of the most innovative and original pianists in jazz, plays with his trio at Cornish College on Saturday, May 9."

NPR: Vijay Iyer Trio at Metropolitan Museum of Art May 06, 2015
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced that Vijay Iyer will be their Artist-In-Residence for the 2015-2016 season.

NPR: Tiny Desk Concert: Vijay Iyer TrioMay 05, 2015
Vijay Iyer Trio perform pieces from Break Stuff on NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concerts series.

Vijay to Join the Met as Artist-in-Residence - April 29 2015 Two sides of pianist Vijay Iyer, both striking - April 21 2015
"The second set displayed one of modern jazz's most exhilarating groups at the height of its powers, focusing on pieces from its just-released Break Stuff..."

Télérama: Break Stuff Review - April 2015
France's weekly cultural magazine Télérama gives Break Stuff its highest rating.  Read review (in French).

Jazz News: Vijay Iyer est Déjà Demain - February 2015

Jazz News Magazine features Vijay and Break Stuff in their February issue (No. 39).

CD of the Week - Vijay Iyer Trio: Break Stuff Review - February 16 , 2015
All About Jazz Italia selects Break Stuff as CD of the week and publishes a 4 1/2 star review (in Italian).  Read full review here.

Vijay Iyer, Prashant Bhargava: Rhade Rhade - Rites of Holi - February 16 , 2015
All About Jazz Italia reviews Rhade Rhade: Rites of Holi (in Italian).  Read full review here.

The progressive jazz of Vijay Iyer - February 8 , 2015
Spettakolo! Reviews Break Stuff (in Italian).

Vijay Iyer, high class jazz piano - February 2 , 2015
Affaritaliani reviews Break Stuff (in Italian).  

PopUp Music in Poland Reviews Vijay's latest projects - February 6, 2015
Poland's Pop-Up Magazine reviews both Break Stuff and Rhade Rhade: Rites of Holi in this week's issue.

Die Ziet: Break Stuff Review - January 29, 2015
The January 29th Issue of Germany's Die Ziet raves about Vijay's new record. "...this record is very, very, very good...” ”...As astonishing as intoxicating...”

Downbeat Magazine: Vijay Iyer Trio: Break Stuff - January 20, 2015
The Vijay Iyer Trio's upcoming (Feb 10) release, Break Stuff, receives a 5-star review in the March 2015 issue of Downbeat Magazine.

France Musique - Vijay Iyer s'offre un break en trio - January 19, 2015
Review of Break Stuff (in French).

New York Times: Conscience of a Composer; Vijay Iyer Performs at BAMDecember 19, 2014
"Mr. Iyer’s music was prismatic and encompassing: a knowing homage to Stravinsky’s spiky and propulsive motifs, a mesh of jazz harmonies with Indian modes, a flamboyant orchestral display, an atmospheric swirl..." 

New York Times: Jazz Pianist’s Multiple Worlds - December 12, 2014
"There’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer."

Vijay Iyer Trio, 'BREAK STUFF' U.S. Release date: February 10, 2015 - December 3, 2014
"Break Stuff features Vijay Iyer's long-running and widely-acclaimed trio with bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, a band in existence for eleven years now..."  

An Interview with MacArther 'genius,' jazz pianist, and composer Vijay Iyer - October 21, 2014
"Iyer's mutant style -- at the intersection of two rich but usually parallel traditions -- should make him one of the most interesting draws at this year's Chicago Humanities Festival. 
The Washington Post: Vijay Iyer continues his pursuit in transforming Jazz - October 29. 2014
"A pianist, composer and 2013 MacArthur Fellow, Iyer’s concerts can work as lessons as much as performances, although his main goal is the same as any musician’s: enliven, push, liberate..." 
Vijay Iyer: Jazz in the 21st Century - Jun 19th, 2014
From Jazz Open Source Vijay Iyer: Jazz in the 21st Century Vijay Iyer brings you inside the head of a jazz improviser and describes the expressive give and take conversation musicians are having with each other. Listen to the whole show...
Vijay Iyer On Q2 Music's 'Spaces' - Apr 24th, 2014
Take a tour of the MacArthur genius’s home in Harlem, including a look at his Steinway, favorite books and percussion instruments from India. View the video

The Boston Globe: Vijay Iyer takes career moment to moment - March 13, 2014
"Vijay Iyer leans against a wall in Harvard’s Music Building as sound fills the classroom. He’s listening to a recording of one of his students, a freshman, in a high school group. The playing is assured; a small smile on Iyer’s face shows he’s impressed...." 
Vijay Iyer: Mutations | Review- March 10, 2014
NY Times: DNA of a Polymath, Restlessly Mutating - March 7, 2014
"Vijay Iyer's new release bridges string quartet and improvistion..." 
The 2013 MacArthur Foundation Fellow will teach 'Creative Music: Critical Practice Studio' 


Vijay Iyer at Sanders Theatre — March 20, 2017, The Bay State Banner 
Iyer prefers the term “creative music” to jazz; but he is rooted in its fundamentals, including its consolation and uplift, 
improvisational give-and-take and syncopated rhythms.

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