Vijay Iyer is a phenomenon that ranges among the most spectacular and influential artists of his generation. The Village Voice refers to him as “the most commanding pianist and composer to emerge in recent years”. Vijay has been a member of the Indaba family for more than five years. We love him and are proud to announce that he belongs to the 21 outstanding individuals, who were recently awarded the prestigious Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Award. The DDCF, which was named after prominent philanthropist and supporter of the arts Doris Duke, grants each artist $225.000, who may use it for any purpose.
Vijay’s music and persona embody our vision of a globalized musical community. He is a jazz star whose music combines influences from various cultural and stylistic backgrounds. The American-born son of Indian immigrants was exposed to Carnatic classical and religious music from an early age on. Especially his usage of polyrhythms leads back to his Indian heritage. One of his main influences has been the music of alto saxophonist Steve Coleman and one can also hear traits of classical composers such as Reich or Debussy, as well as rock and pop music in Vijay’s manifold compositions. In addition to that, he derives influences from African drumming, dub and electronics.
On the piano he was mainly self-taught. He is also a polymath who went to Yale College and the University of Berkeley, CA earning a B.A. and M.A. in math and physics, as well as a PhD in Technology and the Arts. The science magazine Seed chose him as one of their nine “Revolutionary Minds”. As a musicologist he wrote for renowned magazines. His interesting background provides a unique source of inspiration for his music.
Vijay is a pianist with a strong sense for composition, conceptualization and architecture. Iyer’s approach to harmony reveals his great attention to detail and is clearly influenced by the Steve Coleman School. His music is about life: emotionally compelling, grounded in groove, free from prejudice, rhythmically intricate, fluidly improvisational, yet uncannily orchestral. He is an innovator in texture, style and musical form. His repertoire includes original compositions as well as surprising covers. His current trio consists of his long-time colleagues Marcus Gilmore on drums and Stephan Crump on bass.
Highly acclaimed by the press, Vijay Iyer was nominated for a Grammy in 2011 and won the ECHO jazz award.
We at Indaba congratulate him for his outstanding achievements and thank him for contributing his precious music to our community. Thanks, Vijay.