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iTunes Review

Jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer is one of those musicians who folds whole worlds of contemporary music into his work — hiphop, opera, Indian music, modernist classical, and other styles have all found their way into his varied output. On his excellent 2005 release, Reimagining, you can hear traces of alto saxophonist/composer Steve Coleman’s group, the Five Elements, an innovative outfit that Iyer has played with. In a way, the album is like an Eastern-tinged cousin of Coleman’s funk-informed jazz, and Iyer’s improvisations are intricate and gripping. It’s a joy — and a bit of a challenge — to follow every inspired zigzag. Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums in the rhythm section are fully in tune with Iyer’s sensibility, and it’s hard to imagine a better interpreter of the pianist’s work than alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa. The music also recalls 1970s prog rock stripped of nonsense, but more than anything, Iyer and his group are creating a truly new kind of jazz. Listen to a cut like “Inertia,” where a throbbing rhythm section accompanies Iyer’s eerie outlines, and it’s clear that Reimagining is ultimately beyond stylistic labels.


Born: October 26, 1971 in Albany, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Born in 1971 to parents who emigrated from India to the U.S. in the '60s, Bay Area-based composer and pianist Vijay Iyer has led several distinct combos, including Spirit Complex, the Poisonous Prophets, and the Vijay Iyer Trio. All three groups appeared on the musician's 1995 debut on Asian Improv, Memorophilia, a collection fusing jazz forms with the rhythms of South Asian music. In addition to working to create interactive software for improvised musical performance, Iyer worked frequently with...
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Reimagining, Vijay Iyer
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