Vijay Iyer

“By now, there can be no doubt that pianist-composer Iyer stands among the most daringly original jazz artists of [his] generation,” writes Howard Reich in the Chicago Tribune. The American-born son of Indian immigrants and a 2011 Grammy nominee, Vijay Iyer was described by The Village Voice as “the most commanding pianist and composer to emerge in recent years,” by The New Yorker as one of “today’s most important pianists… extravagantly gifted,” by Pitchfork as “one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today,” and by the L.A. Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star.” In the 2010 Jazz Awards, the Jazz Journalists Association voted Iyer Musician of the Year, an honor previously given to Herbie Hancock, Ornette Coleman, Wayne Shorter, and Dave Holland.

Over the previous ten years, Iyer’s celebrated quartet featuring award-winning saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa mined “the magical and murky, imagined interzone, where the music of the Indo-Asian Diaspora meets the Western Jazz tradition… establish[ing] the next extension in both traditions” (All Music Guide). They documented “some of the freshest, most compelling jazz today” (NPR) on four critically hailed discs, Panoptic Modes (2001), Blood Sutra (2003), Reimagining (2005), and Tragicomic (2008), each garnering glowing worldwide praise.

Alongside these works sit several vastly different, equally important and groundbreaking collaborations. Among the best known are In What Language? (2004), Still Life with Commentator (2007), and the work-in-progress Holding it Down, three politically searing, stylistically omnivorous large-scale works created by Iyer and poet-performer Mike Ladd (“unfailingly imaginative and significant” - JazzTimes; “powerful narrative invention and ravishing trance-jazz… an eloquent tribute to the stubborn, regenerative powers of the human spirit” - Rolling Stone). On another end of the spectrum, Your Life Flashes (2002), Simulated Progress (2005), and Door (2008) capture the innovations of the experimental collective Fieldwork (“phenomenal… incredible, challenging, and forward-thinking” - All Music Guide). And last but not least, Raw Materials (2006, “a total triumph from beginning to end” - All About Jazz) documents “one of the great partnerships in jazz” (Chicago Tribune) - the duo of Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa. All of Iyer’s albums have appeared on best-of-the-year lists in dozens of major media, ranging from JazzTimes, Jazzwise, Jazzman, Downbeat, and The Wire, to ArtForum, National Public Radio, The Utne Reader, The New Yorker, and The Village Voice.

As significant as his recordings have been in the jazz world, Iyer’s eclectic accomplishments extend well beyond them. Iyer’s quintet suite Far From Over, commissioned by the 2008 Chicago Jazz Festival and debuted before an audience of 30,000, and was praised in the Chicago Tribune as “making music history… a potential masterpiece… searing, original, and dramatically charged… a shattering, epic composition.” His orchestral work Interventions was commissioned and premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in March 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 prize-winning score for Teza (2008) by legendary filmmaker Haile Gerima; a suite of acoustic jazz cues for the sports channel ESPN (2009); and the award-winning audiovisual installation Release (2010) in collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison. An accomplished electronic musician and producer, Iyer has remixed tracks for British Asian electronica pioneer Talvin Singh, Taqwacore (Islamic punk) band The Kominas, and esteemed composer-performer Meredith Monk.

Across this diverse output, Iyer’s artistic vision remains unmistakable. His powerful, cutting-edge music is firmly grounded in groove and pulse, but also rhythmically intricate and highly interactive; fluidly improvisational, yet uncannily orchestrated; emotionally compelling, as well as innovative in texture, style, and musical form. Its many points of reference include jazz piano titans such as Monk, Ellington, Tyner, Alice Coltrane, Andrew Hill, and Randy Weston; the classical sonorities of composers such as Reich, Ligeti, Debussy, and Bartok; the low-end sonics of rock, soul, funk, hip-hop, dub, and electronica; the intricate polyphonies of African drumming; and the vital, hypnotic music of Iyer’s Indian heritage.

A perennial critical favorite, Iyer won the Jazz Journalists Association’s Annual Jazz Award for 2010 Musician of the Year and 2004 Up & Coming Musician of the Year. He has repeatedly won multiple categories of the Downbeat Magazine International Critics’ Poll, including Rising Star Jazz Artist (2006, 2007), Rising Star Composer (2006, 2007), Rising Star Pianist (2009), Small Ensemble of the Year (2010), and Album of the Year (2010). He has appeared on the covers of five international music magazines: Downbeat (US), Jazzwise (UK), JazzThetik and JazzPodium (Germany), and Concerto (Austria). His many other honors include the prestigious 2003 CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts and a 2006 Fellowship in Music Composition from New York Foundation for the Arts. As a composer/performer, Iyer has received commissioning grants from the Rockefeller Foundation MAP Fund (2000, 2001, 2005, 2009), the New York State Council on the Arts (2002), Creative Capital Foundation (2002), Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust (2002, 2004), American Composers Forum (2005), Chamber Music America (2005), Meet The Composer (2006), and the Jazz Institute of Chicago (2008).

Iyer’s major engagements as a composer-performer-bandleader include the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; The Asia Society, Merkin Hall, Zankel Hall, The Kitchen, and the Lincoln Center Festival in New York City; the Painted Bride Art Center and the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia; the Chicago Jazz Festival and Chicago Symphony Center; the New World Theater at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; the TBA Festival at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art; the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in Los Angeles; Memorial Hall at UNC Chapel Hill; Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University; the Wexner Center at Ohio State University; The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; Buffalo’s Albright Knox Gallery; the McCarter Theater at Princeton University; the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit; Cal Performances at U.C. Berkeley; and international music festivals around the world.

Iyer has joined forces with a wide range of contemporary artists, including Steve Coleman, Roscoe Mitchell, Amiri Baraka, Wadada Leo Smith, Dead Prez, Amina Claudine Myers, Butch Morris, George Lewis, Craig Taborn, Oliver Lake, Miya Masaoka, Matana Roberts, Trichy Sankaran, Talvin Singh, Pamela Z, Imani Uzuri, Will Power, Suphala, Dafnis Prieto, Burnt Sugar, Karsh Kale, Shujaat Khan, DJ Spooky, High Priest of Antipop Consortium, John Zorn, Bill Morrison, and many others.

A polymath whose work has spanned the sciences, arts, and humanities, Iyer holds a B.S. in Mathematics and Physics from Yale College, and a Masters in Physics and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Technology and the Arts from the University of California at Berkeley. He was chosen as one of nine “Revolutionary Minds” in the science magazine Seed, and his research in music cognition has been featured on the radio programs This Week in Science and Studio 360. A faculty member at Manhattan School of Music, New York University, and The New School, he has also given master classes and lectures in composition, improvisation, cognitive science, jazz studies, and performance studies at California Institute of the Arts, Columbia University, Harvard University, Berklee School of Music, several University of California campuses, and the School for Improvisational Music, among others. His writings appear in Music Perception, Current Musicology, Journal of Consciousness Studies, Critical Studies in Improvisation, Journal for the Society of American Music, The Guardian, The Wire, JazzTimes, and the edited anthologies Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies (Columbia University Press), Sound Unbound (MIT Press), and Arcana IV (Hips Road). He is a Steinway artist.

 
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posted on November 8, 2013 by Intern

 

Watch the new EPK for Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd’s Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project HERE

posted on September 5, 2013 by Seth

 

Pi Recordings, Seth Rosner and Yulun Wang have been voted voted #4 Label and #3 Rising Star Producers in DownBeat’s 60th Annual Critics Poll.

Congratulations also goes out to Vijay Iyer for his record setting five #1 category showings; Artist, Album, Group, Piano and Rising Star Composer and to Rudresh Mahanthappa for his #1 Alto of the year showing.

posted on July 19, 2012 by Seth

 

Nice review of the recent Fieldwork in the Brooklyn Rail. “There is a class of composers and musicians today, however, who specialize in virtuosity—the virtuosity of improvisational collaboration, insightful innovation, and instrumental mastery without synthetic alteration. Among this rarefied group, Fieldwork—the trio of Vijay Iyer on piano, Steve Lehman on saxophone, and Tyshawn Sorey on percussion—stands out.” So true.

posted on March 1, 2012 by Yulun

 

Pi Recordings is proud to be curating the next two weeks at The Stone performance space in New York City. We kick off on Wednesday, August 17th with Fieldwork, which received a Star preview in the New York Times. We hope to see you.

★ Fieldwork - This collaborative threesome is rightly revered for its way with discursive melody and asymmetrical rhythmic forms; the heart of its sound is an ever-shifting rapport between the pianist Vijay Iyer, the saxophonist Steve Lehman and the drummer Tyshawn Sorey, all of whom compose material for the group.

posted on August 15, 2011 by Yulun

 

DownBeat’s Critics Poll Winners have been released and there is much to celebrate. We are very pleased to congratulate Rudresh Mahanthappa for being voted top Alto Saxophonist. Apex is in the top 5 Jazz Albums of the Year at #4. Other categories where Pi Recordings’ artists were recognized by the critics:

  • Jazz Artist - Vijay Iyer, Henry Threadgill & Rudresh Mahanthappa
  • Piano - Vijay Iyer
  • Rising Star Jazz Artist - Rudresh Mahanthappa & Vijay Iyer
  • Composer - Henry Threadgill & Vijay Iyer
  • Rising Star Piano - Vijay Iyer
  • Alto Saxophone - Henry Threadgill , Bunky Green & Steve Coleman
  • Jazz Group - Henry Threadgill Zooid
  • Flute - Henry Threadgill
  • Guitar - Marc Ribot
  • Rising Star Guitar - Liberty Ellman
  • Rising Star Composer - Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman & Rudresh Mahanthappa
  • Record Label - Pi Recordings

posted on July 19, 2011 by Seth

 

We are pleased to announce that we have added 4 items to our store for the holiday season:

posted on December 9, 2010 by Seth

 

The official results of the 57th Down Beat Critics Poll are out and, as usual, the Pi family is well represented. Rudresh Mahanthappa, in particular, had a stellar year: His release Kinsmen was named #5 top album of the year; he entered the top alto sax category for the first time, coming in at #7, and was #1 in the Rising Star alto saxophone list as well; plus he was named the #1 Rising Star Jazz Artist and #5 Rising Star Composer. Vijay Iyer also had a spectacular year: He was named five times (six if you count Rising Start Jazz Group ranking for Fieldwork.) Finally, Muhal Richard Abrams came in at #4 in the Hall of Fame balloting. Could next year be Muhal’s year?

Balloting results below. Congratulations to everyone!

Hall of Fame - Muhal Richard Abrams #4; Jazz Album - Rudresh Mahanthappa, Kinsmen #5; Jazz Artist, Rising Star - Rudresh Mahanthappa #1; Jazz Artist, Rising Star - Vijay Iyer #3; Jazz Group, Rising Star - Vijay Iyer Quartet #2; Jazz Group, Rising Star - Fieldwork #11; Trumpet - Wadada Leo Smith #8; Trumpet, Rising Star - Corey Wilkes #9; Trombone - George Lewis - #7; Soprano Saxophone - Roscoe Mitchell #10; Alto Saxophone - Rudresh Mahanthappa #7; Alto Saxophone - Anthony Braxton #9; Alto Saxophone, Rising Star - Rudresh Mahanthappa #1; Alto Saxophone, Rising Star - Steve Lehman #5; Flute - Henry Threadgill #12; Piano, Rising Star - Vijay Iyer #1; Electric Keyboard/Synthesizer - Craig Taborn #5; Electric Keyboard/Synthesizer, Rising Star - Craig Taborn #1; Guitar - Marc Ribot #11; Acoustic Bass, Rising Star - Drew Gress #7; Electric Bass, Rising Star - Stomu Takeishi #1; Electric Bass, Rising Star - Drew Gress #5; Drums - Eric Harland #10; Drums - Jack DeJohnette #2; Drums - Nasheet Waits #12; Drums, Rising Star - Eric Harland #1; Drums, Rising Star - Dafnis Prieto #2; Drums, Rising Star - Marcus Gilmore #4; Drums, Rising Star - Nasheet Waits #6; Drums, Rising Star - Gerald Cleaver #10; Drums, Rising Star - Tyshawn Sorey #11; Vibes, Rising Star - Bryan Carrott #4; Vibes, Rising Star - Chris Dingman #12; Violin - Charles Burnham #7; Composer - Vijay Iyer #6; Composer, Rising Star - Vijay Iyer #3; Composer, Rising Star - Rudresh Mahanthappa #5; Blues Artist/Group - James Blood Ulmer #6.

posted on July 21, 2009 by Yulun

 

If it works for you once, why not do it again?

After his Down Beat cover early this year, Vijay finds himself on the cover of Jazzwise this month.

The article by Kevin LeGendre covers his new quartet recording as well as the new Fieldwork recording Door.

We at Pi are pleased to see Vijay getting his just due.

posted on September 11, 2008 by Seth

 

There’s more to the news than just what is happening with us and our artists, true. But that is so much of what we spend our time reading.

We’ll try to diversify it a little this time.

The most recent edition of Time Out New York features artists discussing other artists their watching. Who shows up? Amir ElSaffar. Who’s watching him? Vijay iyer. We sense a trend.

And just to show you that it is not all about us, we’re going to be keeping our eyes open for Gabriel Kahane on the suggestion of Ethan Iverson. He lives in Brooklyn. There’s a decent chance we’ll see him around.

posted on September 4, 2008 by Seth

 

The 56th Annual Down Beat Critic’s Poll results are in and we are pleased to say that a number of Pi Recording’s artists have been recognized for their work over the past year.

  • Muhal Richard Abrams received 32 votes towards Hall of Fame consideration.

  • The Vijay Iyer Quartet received 33 votes in the Rising Star Jazz Group category. Additionally, Vijay received 47 votes in the Rising Star Composer category, 28 votes in the Rising Star Jazz Artist category and 60 votes in the Rising Star Piano category. Tyshawn Sorey also received Rising Star Jazz Artist consideration with 23 votes as well as 29 votes in the Rising Star Drums category.

  • Roscoe Mitchell received 38 votes in the Soprano Saxophone category.

  • Rudresh Mahanthappa received 23 votes in the Alto Saxophone category and 85 votes in the Rising Star Alto Saxophone category. Steve Lehman also received Rising Star Alto Saxophone with 48 votes.

  • Henry Threadgill received 39 votes in the Flute category.

  • Corey Wilkes received 35 votes in the Rising Star Trumpet category.

  • Marc Ribot received 26 votes and James “Blood” Ulmer received 25 votes in the Guitar category. Additionally, “Blood” received 50 votes in the Blues Artist/Group category.

Pi Recordings would like to thank all of the critics who recognize the work of our artists year after year.

posted on July 13, 2008 by Seth

 

It feels like it has been a long time coming, but it has finally arrived. One of our artists is featured on the cover of DownBeat. This month’s cover features, Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran and Matthew Shipp. The three pianists engage in an interesting conversation about identity, technology and the trajectory of their careers.

posted on June 14, 2008 by Seth

 

WNYC is many things to New York radio, but one of them is hands down the outlet for music that needs to be heard. So it was exciting news when John Schaefer asked Fieldwork to join him on Soundcheck before their CD release show at Joe’s Pub. Listen to the segment here.

posted on June 6, 2008 by Seth

 

Wonderful feature article on the AACM by Nate Chinen in the New York Times on the occasion of the release of George Lewis’s “A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music.” It’s really heartening to be reminded how many of the key members of the AACM, some now gone, have recorded for Pi. Chinen goes on to name Fieldwork as an example of a band influenced by the AACM aesthetic. Thanks Nate for helping to draw attention to an organization whose recognition falls well short of it’s influence on the music.

posted on May 2, 2008 by Seth

 

Pi Recordings is very excited to announce that 2008 will see the release of Fieldwork’s new studio recordings Door. Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman and Tyshawn Sorey recorded Door after their three nights of performances at the Stone in December of 2007.

Produced by the band and mixed by Scott Harding, Door is the bands third release and first with Tyshawn Sorey. 2 tracks from the CD can be previewed here. Look for the CD this Spring.

posted on January 13, 2008 by Seth

 
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