Born in the U.S. to Indian immigrant parents, pianist and composer Vijay Iyer is one of the most brilliant musicians of his generation. Since arriving on the scene in the mid 90s, Iyer has combined virtuosity, daring and intelligence and delighted in redefining the contours of the jazzosphere, alone or accompanied by other forward-thinkers who share his sense of adventure and avant-garde ambitions.
Vijay Iyer was born in 1971 in Rochester, N.Y. He initially took up classical violin before teaching himself piano. He began his recording career leading three groups, Spirit Complex, Poisonous Prophets and the Vijay Iyer Trio, all of whom appeared on Memorophilia, his 1995 debut release.
Iyer would go on to a wide array of projects. He began a musical dialogue with saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa on Panoptic Modes (2000). Poet Mike Ladd joined him on In What Language? (2003). His discography includes Historicity (2009), Solo (2010) Tirtha (2011), and Accelerando (2012), an album praised to the skies by the specialty press. In 2013, he delivered multimedia project Radhe Radhe with filmmaker Prashant Bhargava.
His renowned collaborators have included saxophonist and M-Base founder Steve Coleman, multi-instrumentalist and Art Ensemble of Chicago founder Roscoe Mitchell, and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith.
Other interests and activities
Vijay Iyer’s vast range of interests and abilities extends into the academic world. A gifted student, he earned an interdisciplinary Ph.D., studying mathematics, physics and the arts, among other disciplines. He is also on the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music and New York University, and offers master classes and lectures in the most prestigious institutions, including Berklee Colege of Music and Harvard University.
Well accustomed to receiving awards and distinctions, in 2012, Iyer won in an unprecedented five categories of the Annual DownBeat International Critics Poll: Jazz Artist of the Year, Jazz Album, Jazz Group, top Pianist, and Rising Star Composer.
In 2013, the musician performed three memorable concerts at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal in the Invitation series. He first performed here in 2003 alongside Rudresh Mahanthappa, and returned seven years later with two performances, solo and in a trio.