Described by The New York Times as a “social conscience, multimedia collaborator, system builder, rhapsodist, historical thinker and multicultural gateway,” Vijay Iyer has carved out a unique path as an influential, prolific, shape-shifting presence in twenty-first-century music. A composer and pianist active and revered across multiple musical communities, Iyer has created a consistently innovative, emotionally resonant body of work over the last twenty-five years, earning him a place as one of the leading music-makers of his generation…  


NEWS: Album Announcements

Vijay Iyer Trio:

Release Date: 02 February 2024
on ECM Records

Pianist-composer Vijay Iyer follows his acclaimed 2021 ECM disc Uneasy — the first to showcase his trio featuring bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Tyshawn Sorey — with Compassion, another creative leap in league with these two gifted partners. The New York Times captured the distinctive qualities of this group, pointing to the trio’s flair for playing “with a lithe range of motion and resplendent clarity… while stoking a kind of writhing internal tension. Crucial to that balance is their ability to connect with each other almost telepathically.” Compassion, Iyer’s eighth release as a leader for ECM, continues his drive to explore fresh territory while also referencing his forebears along the way, two of them long associated with the label. The album includes a powerful interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed”, which Iyer selected as an indirect homage to the late Chick Corea.

Another tip of the hat comes with “Nonaah,” a whirlwind of a piece by avant-garde sage Roscoe Mitchell, a key mentor for the pianist. Then there are Iyer’s own melodically alluring, rhythmically invigorating compositions, ranging from the pensive title track to the hook-laced highlights “Tempest” and “Ghostrumental.”

The New Yorker, in its review of Uneasy, described that album as “a triumph of small-group interchange and fertile invention. Iyer’s piano work, whether arrestingly skittish or clothed in powerful solemnity, resounds with a visceral intensity of purpose, and his resourceful compatriots respond in kind.” As with Uneasy, the trio recorded Compassion at Oktaven Audio in Mount Vernon just outside New York City, with the album produced by Iyer and ECM’s Manfred Eicher. The result is a sonic blend of warmth and impact, atmosphere and clarity — ideal for appreciating the propulsive interplay that has developed with this pianist, bassist and drummer. Although this is only the second album by the trio, the three musicians have been connected for longer.

Sorey, a native of Newark, New Jersey, has become one of the most esteemed artists of his generation in the realms of both composed and improvised music, as a leader and as a collaborator. Sorey was part of the quartet for Iyer’s 2003 album Blood Sutra; more recently, the drummer contributed to the ECM sessions for Iyer’s score to the 2013 film Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi and he featured in the powerhouse sextet for the pianist’s 2017 ECM album Far From Over. The bassist Oh — who was born in Malaysia, raised in Australia and now teaches at the Berklee College of Music, in Boston — worked alongside Iyer and Sorey at Canada’s Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music. She has released six albums as a leader, along with playing with trumpeter Dave Douglas and Pat Metheny. Prior to Uneasy, the bassist recorded for ECM with pianist Florian Weber on his quartet disc Lucent Waters.

About his trio mates, Iyer says: “Tyshawn is a complete musician. He hears everything, understanding music as a composer as well as a player. Because of that, he can hear into the future — imagining possibilities before they come to be, making new things happen in the music. With Linda, she has this unfettered quality as a soloist, working as a melodic foil to me in a way that I usually experience with horn players. That said, she doesn’t solo so much at the top of the instrument like some bassists. She can solo in the bass register in a way that sings.” The album’s infectious version of “Free Spirits” — a John Stubblefield composition the pianist first heard via Mary Lou Williams — exemplifies the special rhythmic feel this trio can generate. “In that track,” Iyer explains, “we bring back a bit of Geri Allen’s ‘Drummer’s Song,’ which we had recorded in full on the previous record, and just groove. By the end, we all felt this surge of emotion — the rhythm itself created a space of joy and celebration.”

Several of Iyer’s compositions on Compassion reference admired figures (such as anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu in “Arch”) and painful events (with “Tempest,” “Maelstrom” and “Panegyric,” written for an event memorializing victims of the Covid-19 pandemic). “Ghostrumental,” “Where I Am” and “It Goes” originated in music for the ensemble project Ghosts Everywhere I Go, inspired by Chicago poet Eve L. Ewing; the balladic “It Goes” originally accompanied verses that envisioned the life that Emmett Till — infamously murdered in a racist incident at age 14 in 1955, in Mississippi — “could have had as an elder among us, enjoying the ordinary life that should have been his.” And for “Prelude: Orison,” another touching piece, Iyer explains that he borrowed its theme from one of his earlier compositions, “For My Father,” dedicated to “the most compassionate man I have ever known.”

In his booklet essay, Iyer reflects further on that title of Compassion: “The unease I experience making art in times of suffering never goes away, nor should it; that tension shapes the creative process at every stage. Its counterpart, the response to its call, is the rejuvenating feeling of making music with, for and among people. I am endlessly inspired by Tyshawn and Linda… We developed this music on stage, out in the world, in spaces of community and encounter.”

Linda May Han Oh,  Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey © Ogata / ECM Records

Boston Modern Orchestra Project: Vijay Iyer: Trouble

Release Date: 11 June 2024

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project is releasing an album of Vijay’s compositions, with Gil Rose, conductor.

Approaching its landmark 100th album, the Grammy Award-winning Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) led by conductor Gil Rose releases Vijay Iyer: Trouble on its eponymous label, BMOP/sound. Marking his debut recording as an orchestral composer, polymath Vijay Iyer showcases his high-minded yet emotionally expressive approach to music-making with this collection of bustling textures, surprising forms, and pulsating rhythms. Vijay Iyer: Trouble comprises three of his holistic musical responses to living in times of struggle. Asunder (2017) employs an Ellingtonian palette to portray American life as “pulled apart, broken, anxious, untethered”; Trouble (2017) uses the violin concerto format to voice our unfinished quest for equal rights; and Crisis Modes (2019) speaks of an unease around rising threats to humanity via strings and percussion. Alongside Iyer’s meteoric career in the jazz universe, he has maintained a parallel life as a classical composer that has often gone unnoticed…until now.

  1. Asunder: I. Agitated
  2. Asunder: II. Patient & mysterious
  3. Asunder: III. Calm & precise
  4. Asunder: IV. Lush
  5. Trouble for Violin and Chamber Orchestra: 1. Prelude: Erasure
  6. Trouble for Violin and Chamber Orchestra: 2. Normale
  7. Trouble for Violin and Chamber Orchestra: 3. For Vincent Chin
  8. Trouble for Violin and Chamber Orchestra: 4. Cozening
  9. Trouble for Violin and Chamber Orchestra: 5. Interlude: Accretion
  10. Trouble for Violin and Chamber Orchestra: 6. Assembly
  11. Crisis Modes for Percussion and Strings: 1. Appeals
  12. Crisis Modes for Percussion and Strings: 2. Denial
  13. Crisis Modes for Percussion and Strings: 3. Agonism

Review in THE WIRE

“…this music is both uplifting and instructive; it enlightens through its irresistible buoyancy. Even when these gracefully realized compositions are at their most reflective or plaintive, the dancing figure of a resounding affirmation is taking shape.”

–  Julian Cowley, The Wire Magazine, Aug, 2024


Heems album lead single MANTO ft. Vijay Iyer

Release Date: 26 June 2024

“Earlier this year, Heems released Lafandar, his first solo LP in nine years, and it was our Album Of The Week. Today, Himanshu Suri is already announcing its follow-up, Veena LP. The Sid Vashi-produced single “Manto” is out now, and it features Vijay Iyer…

“Inter and trans-generational trauma is something that is starting to be spoken about more in psychiatry, and many if not most Indian families have been impacted by partition in some way,” Vashi said. “The way Hima discusses it on Manto is so visceral and I think it really highlights the emotional impact of historical traumas that can sometimes be overlooked in theoretical discussions.”

The album has guests like Hasan Minhaj, Cool Calm Pete, and Mr. Cheeks, as well as voicemails from his peers, including No Doubt’s Tony Kanal, Bollywood director Zoya Akhtar, and frequent collaborator Riz Ahmed.”

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NEWS: Two GRAMMY Nominations for Love in Exile

Arooj Aftab / Vijay Iyer / Shahzad Ismaily – On Verve Records

  • Nominated: Best Alternative Jazz Album
  • Nominated: Best Global Music Performance for “Shadow Forces”
  • Named one of the ten best records of the year by The New York Times

“Ambient, jazz, world music: “Love in Exile” partakes of them all. Its three collaborators share South Asian roots and American musical practice. Their improvised pieces draw on deep traditions — especially the singer Arooj Aftab’s ancient melodies and Urdu poetry — along with Shazad Ismaily’s liminal synthesizer drones and penumbras and Vijay Iyer’s patient but mutable piano patterns. They start with simplicity, then listen to one another; things happen.” – from The New York Times


Vijay in conversation on The Third Story Leo podcast with Leo Sidran: