Asian pianist named Artist of the Year | Sunday Observer

Asian pianist named Artist of the Year

Vijay Iyer (2nd from left) with his Sextet
Vijay Iyer (2nd from left) with his Sextet

Many are the accolades that Vijay Iyer has received globally for his piano artistry. The Down Beat magazine has named him the Jazz Artist of the Year and his Sextet the Jazz Group of the Year for the fourth time this decade. As the New York Times describes him, “Presto! Here is the great new jazz piano trio”.

Vijay Iyer’s Trio comprising Vijay – piano, Marcus Gilmore – drums and Stephan Crump – bass made their name with three tremendously acclaimed and influential albums.

There were ‘Break Stuff’ (2015) Accelerando (2012) and Historicity (2009). The album Accelerando was voted the # 1 Jazz Album of the Year 2012 in three separate critics polls surveying hundreds of critics worldwide hosted by Down Beat, Jazz Times and Rhapsody respectively.

Vijay Iyer has been confidently described as one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today and what’s more the Minnesota Public Radio hails him as “an American treasure”.

Critics are of the opinion that there is no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist. He has released twenty-two albums and the latest one “Far From Over” which was released last year, received No-1 status on the Billboard Jazz chart.

As a point of interest Vijay Iyer’s tour of European Festivals started on July 5 and today (July 22) he will be performing at Rocca Malatestiana Fano, Italy.

Tomorrow July 23 the group will be in action at the Casa Del Jazz in Rome. On August 2 he will be back in the States to perform at the Jazz Gallery, New York and at the Breckenridge Music Festival.

His tour will see him in Germany performing at Dortmund, Hamburg and Mannheim, and also in Poland, at the Jazz Jantar Festival in Gdansk. Now a Professor of the Arts in the Department of Music at Harvard University, Vijay Iyer’s accomplishments extend into concert work compositions as well which were performed by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

The work ‘Asunda’ was written in 2017 for the OCO while last year another composition titled ‘Trouble’ was written for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, for Violin and Orchestra featuring Jennifer Koh and this premiered at Ojai and Tanglewood Music Festivals.

There were many others as well and mention must be made of Bridge Tower Fantasy for violin and piano, a companion piece to Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata.

Titles were many for Vijay Iyer. He was voted the 2010 Musician of the Year and named one of 2011’s ‘50 Most Influential Global Indians’ by GQ India, not forgetting the India Abroad Publishers’ Special Award for Excellence and numerous other critics’ awards.

Vijay Iyer’s many collaborators include Steve Coleman, Wadada Leo Smith, Roscoe Mitchell, George Lewis, Amina Claudine Myers, Pamela Z, Rudresh Mahanthappa – the list is long.

Labelled as “one of the world’s most inventive new-generation jazz pianists” it has been commented that “The Vijay Iyer Trio has the potential to alter the scope, ambition and language of jazz piano forever....” 

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