The most powerful storm I've ever seen was at the Big Bend National Park in the isolated elbow of Texas. A tremendous set of clouds marched toward our site in the valley between desert mountains, catching on a ridge and letting loose in safe viewing distance. Unable to look away from such a gorgeous thing, there was a deference to the power, too — a fear of what it might be capable of.
Part of The Jazz Gallery's 20th anniversary series, reedist Henry Threadgill, pianist Vijay Iyer, and drummer Dafnis Prieto evoked a similar atavistic feeling this past Saturday night. The trio blasted in a storm of rhythm, with Threadgill's voice serving as the violent wind. In tandem, Iyer and Prieto evoked a brooding landscape, as intricate as it was expansive.
Aaron Prado didn't plan on being on the stage last Friday night. The pianist and former KRTU music director was merely planning on attending the performance of his old teacher's, Vijay Iyer's, composition,Time, Place, Action, with the Brentano String Quartet, a show as part of the Musical Bridges Around the World's Second Annual International Music Festival. He just so happened to be wearing a grey shirt and black slacks, perfect attire for sitting on a stage. Dr. Anya Grokhovski, MBAW's artistic director and CEO, wasn't quite up to the task that Friday evening of keeping up with the looping rhythms and odd time signatures (at least not tonight anyway). So Prado and Iyer talked it out and Friday night's performance of Time, Place, Action went off without a hitch.
Since the inception of this site in 2009, pianist Vijay Iyer has been on a tear producing album after album of deeply compelling, intricate, powerful and addictive music, each time one-upping himself in terms of magistery and mastery of his instrument.To reward the breadth of his work, the virtuoso was awarded in 2013 a MacArthur fellowship, earning him the official title of genius. Although we admire all of Iyer’s work, whether his 2010 aptly named solo album, Solo, his 2011 opus, Tirtha, featuring Indian musicians Prasanna and Nitin Mitta, or more recently his 2014 ECM debut Mutations featuring a string quartet, we can’t help ourselves from being slightly biased towards his longstanding trio with bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore. Case in point, Break Stuff, Iyer’s latest album released last February once again on ECM, is considered by many as his best work to date. To celebrate the release, the trio performed last March at the Temple of Dendur, the Egyptian temple which resides within New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Catch their set below the jump courtesy of NPR’s Jazz Night in America.
NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Series released yesterday their newest rendition featuring none other than the trio of Vijay Iyer on piano, Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. While my introduction is unlikely to be as eloquent as the one provided by NPR’s Patrick Jarenwattananon, I do urge you nonetheless to go watch the 25 minute video which features five songs including two from Iyer’s latest opus Break Stuff. Note that the audio from the set can be downloaded from NPR's website. If you still need more Vijay Iyer trio in your life, which I’m sure you do, they will be performing on NPR’s Jazz Night in America tomorrow night, May 6th, at 9pm ET / 6pm PT. Head over to Jazz Night in America's website for the live stream or wait until Thursday when we will be posting the concert on Nextbop.
It’s not often that two MacArthur geniuses get together, let alone to give a masterclass. Nonetheless, this is what happened last September at the New England Conservatory. Pianists extraordinaire Jason Moran, who teaches at NEC, and Vijay Iyer, now teaching at Harvard, teamed up to discuss their careers, music in general, answer questions from students and perform a few duos. Check out the video below the jump.