...the universe of music is an open-ended continuum, whether sections are labeled jazz, modern classical music, classical Indian music, or the pop genres he was so crazy about as a gifted, Indian-American kid growing up in Rocheseter, N.Y., in the 1970s and '80s.
Iyer, who leads his adventurous trio Saturday at 5:15 p.m. at the star-packed, 16th annual Litchfield Jazz Festival in Kent, is an original new music artist, an innovator and iconoclast.
A first generation Indian-American — a relative rarity on the American jazz scene — Iyer has a sense of the history of musical ideas and a profound consciousness and appreciation of the art and the artists who have come before him.
"I'm staring at a wall full of CDs and LPs right now in my apartment. So, of course, history matters to me," Iyer says when asked his view on the importance of the past on the creative process in the present.
"I've learned from thousands and thousands of hours of listening to what has come before. But I've also learned on the job by collaborating and by doing things together with other people," he says by phone from Manhattan.
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