All of this while balancing an open, inclusive and boundless approach to music having worked out a unique and distinctive style as a pianist, improviser and composer, which has thrilled critics as well as an ever growing audience.
Vijay Iyer was born in 1971 in Albany, New York, as a son of Indian immigrants. He studied classical violin since the age of 3 and until he was 15 years old, but eventually started to play piano by ear. Iyer studied mathematics and physics at Yale and began a doctorate in physics at the University of California, Berklee, before he gave dedicated himself to music. After playing with smaller, local ensembles he began working with saxophonist and composer Steve Coleman and trombonist George E. Lewis, and even collaborated with them both on their debut album in 1995.
Iyer has an open approach to making music, and expresses interest in and draws inspiration from a wide range of musical expression. "There is probably no framework broad enough to encompass the creative output of pianist Vijay Iyer," The New York Times once wrote about him. Thelonious Monk is one of his greatest influences, which can be noticed in his angulare style and flair to let the music breathe. With improvisation and rythm, he leans towards more contemporary styles and performers, like Coleman and Leo Smith and performers like Henry Threadgill.
His use of various forms of rhythm is probably also influenced by an interest in contemporary electronic music which has arisen through cooperation with various hip-hop artists, whether they are experimental or more joyful and pop oriented like Das Racist. Iyer has also used elements of Indian Classical Music. He also draws inspiration from other form of arts besides music, such as the visual arts.
Whether Iyer plays stripped down, meditative and hypnotic music with his regular trio, frenetic and complex jazz with Fieldwork, creates conceptual works at the crossroads of jazz and hip hop with Mike Ladd, or composes for strings, he is fascinating. Iyer has released a number of albums with Pi Recordings, ACT and ECM. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including the prestigious MacArthur scholarship in 2013. He has been named Jazz musician of the Year by Downbeat three times, and his release Accelerando topped the International Jazz Critics Poll in 2012.
The Veterans' Dreams, Bjørnsonhuset 17/7
Teatret Vårt 22/7