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Vijay Iyer Releases Two in the Fall

Did I ever mention that I like Vijay Iyer? Because I do. Very much, in fact. I’m not alone. The Indian-American keyboardist is making all kinds of noise in the jazz community these days, winning awards like the CalArts Alpert Award and garnering significant up-and-comer status from the folks in the Jazz Journalists Association and in jazz polls. He adds his South Asian-inspired, slightly avant stylings to a number of bands, most notably Fieldwork, whose album Your Life Flashes is a must-have, according to me (and probably according to the publicists at Pi Recordings, Fieldworks’ label, as well). Though Fieldwork is arguably Iyer’s band (so many of the compositions it plays are his), the keyboardist continues to put out CDs under his name, one every two or three years and the newest, Blood Sutra, will be released September 23 on the recently resurrected Artists House label.

Blood Sutra follows the same cerebral path we last heard on Iyer’s Panoptic Modes, with nearly the same personnel. Alto saxophonst Rudresh Mahanthappa and bassist Steve Crumb return, while Tyshawn Sorey replaces Derrek Phillips on drums. The new album will come as a dual-layer SACD, playable on all CD players, but best heard on those new-fangled ones you see in the advertisements these days.

What’s more, Iyer has a second release to promote this fall, In What Language? (Pi), a studio-recording of his collaboration with poet Mike Ladd first presented in concert May 8-11 at New York’s Asia Society. Writer Nate Chinen reviewed the show for us, read it by clicking here. According to Iyer’s offical Web site (, the Pi disc comes out October 21. And speaking of Iyer’s Web site, it features a few MP3s of the man’s music and, if you’re looking for something to read, the dissertation he wrote for to get a PhD from UC Berkeley, Microstructures of Feel, Macrostructures of Sound:

Embodied Cognition in West African

and African-American Musics
, is available there as well. I can’t imagine it being half as entertaining as his music, so I’ll stick with Blood Sutra, but if you read it, let me know how it is.

Originally Published