Iyer has also had a long collaboration with hip-hop artist, producer, DJ, rapper and poet Mike Ladd, a collaboration which has so far resulted in three albums, each of them with an imminent socially engaged and politically charged topic, with the aftermath of September 11 as a consistent backdrop.
The last of these projects has also been the most successful, definitely considering the attention it has received but also artistically. Holding It Down: Veterans' Dream Project deals with war veterans and more specifically veterans of color and their experiences, thoughts and dreams of the wars they have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And to give the project an extra weight, the lyrics on the album were written by real war veterans and some of these texts were penned single-handedly by two veterans, ex-Marine and now poet Maurice Decaul and former soldier in the US air force, Lynn Hill.
The result is poignant, sobering and frightening, but also filled with hope. To quote the Los Angeles Times's review of the release "like the best of all art, Iyer and Ladd have captured an experience too harrowing for words and given it life, and an unforgettably human one at that.
The music is performed by Iyer with crossover jazz musicians and we can experience jazz's flexibility and spontaneity in a distinctive encounter with hip-hop inspired beats and electronic input, which in turn becomes a fascinating platform for vocal performances. It will be a different and exciting opening concert at the Jazz in 2017.
Vijay Iyer: piano
Mike Ladd: vocals, electronics
Maurice Decaul: vocals
Lynn Hill: vocal
Latasha N. Nevada Diggs, vocals, electronics
Okkyung Lee: cello
Liberty Ellman: guitar
Kassa Overall: drums, vocals