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2022 Savannah Music Festival: Vijay Iyer Trio ‘breaking the mold’ with uneasy jazz explorations

By Christopher Berinato For Do Savannah

The New York Times once called pianist Vijay Iyer a “social conscience, multimedia collaborator, system builder, rhapsodist, historical thinker and multicultural gateway,” but most importantly he is one of today’s most exciting and innovative musicians and composers.

It should also be mentioned that Iyer has received a MacArthur Fellowship, Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a United States Artist Fellowship, a Grammy nomination, two German “Echo” Awards, and was voted Downbeat Magazine’s Jazz Artist of the Year four times in the last decade.

Iyer also teaches at Harvard University in the Department of Music and the Department of African and African American Studies when he is not touring, collaborating with a wide swath of artists, or composing works for chamber orchestras. Iyer has a restless energy that translates into his relentlessly inventive piano improvisations.

The pandemic seems to have allowed the overactive artist a chance to pump the brakes a little bit on his output.

“Like many people, I think during the pandemic, I’m trying not to work so hard, as we get back into all of this,” Iyer said in an interview while he is on tour in Europe with his trio. “I certainly love playing, performing, I love making music with people and for people, but I also don’t need to harm myself in doing so.”