By overwhelming consensus, the VIJAY IYER TRIO (Vijay Iyer, piano; Stephan Crump, double bass; Marcus Gilmore, drums) has become one of the pivotal jazz bands of the twenty-first century. Described as “the best piano trio in jazz today” (Der Spiegel), “the great new jazz piano trio” (The New York Times), “truly astonishing” (NPR), and “the best band in jazz” (PopMatters), the trio makes “cutting-edge music, but always accessible” (The Guardian) – emotionally resonant and deeply interactive, radiating groove and brimming with polyrhythmic detail, rooted in tradition yet truly innovative in style and form.
Break Stuff (2015), “the third and best record by Mr. Iyer’s trio” (New York Times) and Iyer’s twentieth release as a leader, was produced by Manfred Eicher for ECM. It received a coveted five stars in DownBeat magazine, and the German newspaper Die Zeit raved, “This record is very, very, very good… as astonishing as it is intoxicating.”
Crucially, as DownBeat notes, “the Vijay Iyer Trio is, at its core, a working band,” distinguished most of all by a profound, seemingly effortless unity, developed over hundreds of performances in nearly a dozen years. As Howard Reich wrote in The Chicago Tribune, “The three players practically have become a single rhythmic organism… one of the great rhythm units of the day.”
The trio earned the admiration of audiences, musicians, and journalists worldwide with its two previous albums, Historicity (ACT, 2009) and Accelerando (ACT, 2012), which were both named #1 jazz album of their respective years in both the DownBeat and JazzTimes international critics’ polls, surveying hundreds of critics. The British magazine Jazzwise went so far as to say, “The Vijay Iyer Trio has the potential to alter the scope, ambition and language of jazz piano forever.”
Composer-pianist VIJAY IYER (pronounced “VID-jay EYE-yer”) was described by Pitchfork as “one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today,” by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star,” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.” A Grammy nominee, Iyer was named DownBeat Magazine‘s 2014 Pianist of the Year, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, and a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist..
Born and raised in upstate New York, Iyer studied violin from age 3 to 18 and was self-taught on piano. Living in the SF Bay Area in the 1990s, Iyer developed formative affiliations with composer-saxophonist Steve Coleman, trombonist-composer-theorist George Lewis, author-performer-activist Amiri Baraka, and the west coast Asian American creative music collective Asian Improv. He moved to New York in 1998, and subsequently collaborated with Wadada Leo Smith, Roscoe Mitchell, Butch Morris, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Steve Lehman, Craig Taborn, Tyshawn Sorey, Liberty Ellman, Rez Abbasi, Ambrose Akinmusire, Amina Claudine Myers, Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman, Imani Uzuri, poet Mike Ladd, novelist Teju Cole, writer/bandleader Greg Tate, filmmaker Prashant Bhargava, rapper Himanshu Suri, and many other artists across genres and disciplines.
The New York Times observes, “There’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer.” Iyer has released twenty recordings under his own name. The three most recent are for the ECM label. These latest include Mutations, featuring his compositions for piano, string quartet and electronics; Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi, a film by Prashant Bhargava, with Iyer’s score performed by International Contemporary Ensemble; and Break Stuff, featuring the Vijay Iyer Trio, hailed by PopMatters as “the best band in jazz.”
Iyer is the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in the Department of Music at Harvard University, and the director of the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music. As a composer he has had works commissioned and premiered by Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Brentano Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Imani Winds, International Contemporary Ensemble, violinist Jennifer Koh, and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. He is a Steinway artist.
Memphis-bred bassist/composer STEPHAN CRUMP is a rising star on the New York music scene. He has performed and recorded in the US and across the globe with a diverse list of artists — from late blues legend Johnny Clyde Copeland to Portishead’s Dave McDonald, Patti Austin, The Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano, Big Ass Truck, Dave Liebman, Billy Hart, Sonny Fortune, Greg Osby, Kenny Werner, The Mahavishnu Project, and Bobby Previte, among others. As a longtime collaborator with adventurous jazz composers (since 1999 with Vijay Iyer) as well as guitar wizard Jim Campilongo and radiant singer-songwriter Jen Chapin, he has become known for the elegance and purposeful groove of his acoustic and electric bass playing. Crump’s compositions can be heard in numerous films and on his six critically lauded albums, the latest of which, Reclamation, featuring his all-string Rosetta Trio, has been praised by The New Yorker for its “ingenious originals”, named one of the year’s best by NPR, and declared “a low-key marvel” by JazzTimes. Crump has also released duo recordings with alto saxophonist Steve Lehman and pianist James Carney, and two albums with Secret Keeper, his duo with visionary guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson.
Born 1986 in Queens, NY, MARCUS GILMORE was inspired by the music of his grandfather, legendary drummer Roy Haynes, who gave him his first set of drums at the age of 10. Gilmore, who has become one of jazz’s most sought-after drummers, has performed, toured and recorded with Chick Corea, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Steve Coleman, Ravi Coltrane, Gerald Clayton, Robert Glasper, Nicholas Payton, Christian Scott, Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Clark Terry, Cassandra Wilson, and many others. In 2012, DownBeat magazine named him its top Rising Star Drummer in its long-running Critics Poll. Gilmore joined Vijay Iyer’s group in 2003, at the age of 16. He also leads his own ensemble, and is working on his debut recording as a leader.
“Presto! Here is the great new jazz piano trio.”
–The New York Times
“Truly astonishing… they make challenging music sound immediately enjoyable. ”
– National Public Radio
“The Vijay Iyer Trio has the potential to alter the scope, ambition and language of jazz piano forever.” – Jazzwise (GB)