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Celebrating Three Centuries of People and Pianos



Vijay Iyer, pianist, composer, and band leader, pays homage to his South Asian heritage by drawing from South Asian and African-American music to create new sounds in the jazz tradition.

Iyer has released two compact discs of original music on Asian Improv Records. Memorophilia (recorded when Iyer was 23) was listed by Cadence magazine among the ten best albums of 1996 and by A. magazine as one of the 15 most interesting of the 1990s. His 1998 follow-up, Architextures, was called "superb" by the East Bay Express and described as "genius . . . epitomizing new jazz at its best" by the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

As a band leader or headliner, Iyer has been featured at the Chicago World Music Festival, the Guelph Jazz Festival, the Verona Jazz Festival (Italy), Jazz Yatra (India), the North Beach Jazz Festival (San Francisco), the Chicago Asian-American Jazz Festival, the Desh Pardesh South Asian Diasporic Culture Festival (Toronto), the Eddie Moore Jazz Festival (Oakland), and the Asian American Jazz Festival (San Francisco). Iyer has also toured and recorded with the saxophonist and composer Steve Coleman, appearing at major festivals in Europe and Africa and on a number of Coleman's recordings on the RCA label. Iyer has joined forces with a wide assortment of other outstanding artists, including the hip-hop group Midnight Voices, Cecil Taylor, George Lewis, John Tchicai, the ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Gerry Hemingway, Miya Masaoka, poet Amiri Baraka.

Iyer is the recipient of grants from the California Arts Council, Arts International, and the University of California, from which he earned an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in music and cognitive science. In addition to his performing and academic careers, Iyer frequently gives workshops and speaks on panels devoted to issues facing people of color, such as arts and activism, alternative careers for Asian Americans, South Asian influences in jazz, and the expression and elaboration of identity through creative music. According to Iyer, all of his creative alliances exemplify his commitment to new and experimental forms of artistic expression, reflecting the realities of his diverse community.

 Listen to "Prelude: Paradise Lost", from the CD Architextures (#7)

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