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Vijay Iyer: Blood Sutra

illustration of Vijay Iyer

Vijay Iyer’s ascendancy in the new avant-garde has been fairly meteoric, although that’s not to say that it came without warning or cause. The pianist-composer’s resume is heavy with credentials: a combined Ph.D. in music and cognitive science, an M.A. in physics and apprenticeships with the likes of Steve Coleman and Roscoe Mitchell. In the past few years, the relative newcomer has collected critical encomia from all corners. Cultural academic Robin D.G. Kelley’s proclamation of Iyer as “the pianist/composer to watch in our century” is dramatic but hardly atypical.

So it’s evident that Iyer, praised in equal measure for his musicianship, his compositions and his concept, has, basically, already arrived. That said, this year, which has already seen the pianist honored with CalArts’ prestigious Alpert Award in the Arts, could well serve as a landmark for Iyer. In particular, the fall release of these two recordings constitutes an accomplishment akin to critical mass.

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