Vijay Iyer’s genre-defying collaboration with poet/hip-hop artist Mike Ladd is a series of monologues by people of color navigating the hyper-globalized setting of an international airport. Featuring an eleven-member ensemble of musicians and speaking voices, this is the album version of the acclaimed multi-media performance piece of the same name. Co-produced by Scotty Hard. Released January 2004.
“…it’s that elusive thing, underground political music that sounds good… a breakthrough hip-hop-jazz fusion… it’s one of the smartest I’ve heard, and one of the few that really works.” – Ben Ratliff, The New York Times
“…a monumental work that seamlessly combines sound and voice for an artistic statement that should reverberate for years to come… simply a masterpiece” – Signal to Noise
****1/2 (4 1/2 stars, out of 5) – Downbeat
CHOC [highest rating] – Jazzman
#1 ALBUM OF THE YEAR – Jazzwise
“The great success of ‘In What Language?’ can be measured by the seamlessness with which Ladd’s verse meets Iyer’s music. The strength of their collaborative efforts can hardly be overstated… The marriage of sound and word are so complete that it becomes impossible to imagine one component of the project without the other… a tour de force… Steeped in the language of South Asian and pan-African culture but trafficking in universal impulses…” – JazzTimes
“…an ambitious protest for a belittling time… The airport, with its relentless energy of coming and going, is the perfect site for the pair’s commentary on lives in transition… The music – composed by Iyer and performed by a seven-piece band – glides and swirls with a thick, heartening spirit. Ladd’s characters are complicated, and though they emphasize the uniqueness of their positions, there’s always something open, even affirming, about them… In What Language? succeeds by not wearing its political views on its sleeve but offering them slyly, through the feeling the performance evokes.” – The Village Voice