CLINIC: Vijay Iyer will give a clinic Saturday from 2:45 – 3:30 PM in the Artist Talk Tent on the grounds of the Litchfield Jazz Festival. All ticket holders are welcome to attend.
By now, there is no doubt that pianist-composer Vijay Iyer stands among the most daringly original jazz artists of the under-40 generation. With his colleagues drummer Marcus Gilmore (whose grandfather Roy Haynes headlines the Litchfield Jazz Festival on August 6), and bassist Stephan Crump, he has created a powerful, cutting-edge music grounded in groove and pulse, but rhythmically intricate, highly interactive, fluidly improvisational, and uncannily synchronized. The trio’s original music is influenced by jazz piano titans like Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Andrew Hill and Cecil Taylor. In it, you can also hear the classical sonorities of Ligeti, Debussy, and Bartok and a wide range of styles from rock, soul, funk, and hip-hop, to the music of Iyer’s Indian heritage.
Born in 1971 and raised in Rochester, New York, Iyer is the son of Indian Tamil immigrants. He had 15 years of Western classical training on violin starting at age 3 and is self taught on piano, having begun to play by ear in childhood. Vijay was also exposed to Indian classical and religious music in his youth. His high school years saw a growing interest in jazz. After completing a degree in mathematics and physics at Yale University when he was 20, Iyer received a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in Technology and the Arts. He continued to pursue his jazz interests, however, and was house pianist at the Bird Kage in North Oakland, whose guest luminaries included players like Pharoah Sanders.
Now based in New York, Vijay travels the world with his trio, quartet, and quintet and performs his large-scale works with poet-performer Mike Ladd, with the experimental collective Fieldwork, the new South Asian chamber trio Tirtha, and Raw Materials, his longstanding duo with saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa.
Iyer received the 2003 Alpert Award in the Arts, a 2006 Fellowship from New York Foundation for the Arts, and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, Chamber Music America, and many other funders. His trio album Historicity was nominated for a 2010 Grammy Award for best instrumental jazz album. In 2010 he also released Solo, his first solo piano album. In that same year he won the Echo Award (Germany’s Grammy) for best international ensemble, the Downbeat Critics Poll for best small ensemble, and was named Musician of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association. He is a faculty member at Manhattan School of Music, New York University, The New School, and the School for Improvisational Music. His writings appear in learned music journals and jazz trade magazines. Vijay Iyer is a Steinway artist.
Vijay Iyer Trio includes Vijay Iyer on piano, Stephen Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. They will make their Litchfield Jazz Festival debut on August 5.