“A one-of-a-kind quartet . . . so rhythmically gripping and harmonically provocative that one hardly can wait to hear what outlandish idea these players will hit upon next.” —Los Angeles Times
Vijay Iyer, “the most commanding pianist and composer to emerge in recent years” (Village Voice), and 2006 winner of Downbeat’s Rising Star Jazz Artist/Composer of the Year, brings a fresh perspective to new jazz composition through a disarming blend of post-bop, Indian, and contemporary music. His quartet of dexterous young guns, respected equally for their chops and adventurousness, lays down mind-boggling polyrhythms, twisting melodies, and white-hot solos in virtuosic performances. The Vijay Iyer Quartet performs Thursday, October 19, at 8 pm in the Walker Art Center’s William and Nadine McGuire Theater. Featuring: Vijay Iyer (piano), Rudresh Mahanthappa (alto saxophone), Stephan Crump (bass), and Marcus Gilmore (percussion). Presented in association with the Indian Music Society of Minnesota.
The son of Indian immigrants, Vijay Iyer is a largely self-taught creative musician grounded in the American jazz lexicon and drawing from a range of traditions and information systems. His critically acclaimed recordings include Memorophilia (1995), Architextures (1998), Panoptic Modes (2001), Blood Sutra (2003), and Reimagining (2005) under his own name; Your Life Flashes (2002) and Simulated Progress (2006) as the collective trio Fieldwork; and In What Language? (2004) in collaboration with poet-performer-producer Mike Ladd. In May 2006, Iyer’s decade-long partnership with Rudresh Mahanthappa, Raw Materials, released its self-titled debut disc on the Savoy Jazz label (his second on a multi-album deal with Savoy). His second musical collaboration with Ladd, Still Life With Commentator, will be released in early 2007.
Iyer has performed around the world, including with the Vijay Iyer Quartet; the multimedia performance In What Language? with Ladd and director Rachel Dickstein; a new collaboration with Ladd and director Ibrahim Quraishi, titled Still Life with Commentator, which had its world and European premieres in spring 2006, and will be at Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival in December, to be followed by the project’s album release in early 2007; the collaborative trio Fieldwork; and Raw Materials, his duo with saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa. His recent appearances as a leader/co-leader include international music festivals in Paris, London, Toronto, Prague, Ottawa, The Hague, Strasbourg, Amsterdam, Ljubljana, Nijmegen, Ulrichsburg, Guelph, Victoriaville, Newport, Burlington, Cheltenham, Montreal, Vancouver, Perth, Melbourne, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Rochester, Verona, and Mumbai; the TBA Festival at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art; Salzburg’s Kontracom festival; and performing arts venues including the Smithsonian Institution; the Asia Society, Merkin Hall, Joe’s Pub, Symphony Space, and The Kitchen in New York; UNC Chapel Hill’s Carolina Performances series at Memorial Hall; the Wexner Center at Ohio State University; The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia; the New World Theater at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in Los Angeles.
In addition, he has appeared as a featured performer on numerous recordings and tours in Europe, Africa, and Asia with influential saxophonist-composer Steve Coleman’s Five Elements, avant-garde trailblazer Roscoe Mitchell’s Note Factory, trumpet innovator Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet, Black Rock Coalition founder Greg Tate’s Burnt Sugar, and legendary poet-activist Amiri Baraka’s Blue Ark. Iyer has also joined forces with cutting-edge artists such as Cecil Taylor, George Lewis, Graham Haynes, Butch Morris, Dead Prez, Gerry Hemingway, Liberty Ellman, ROVA Saxophone Quartet, kotoist Miya Masaoka, vocalist Imani Uzuri, percussionist Trichy Sankaran, and hip-hop theater artist Will Power. As a composer-performer, Iyer has received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation MAP Fund, New York State Council on the Arts, Arts International, Creative Capital, Chamber Music America, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, and Meet the Composer. He has lectured and published on a range of topics, including cognitive science, improvisation, and performance studies.
Named a Rising Star of the alto saxophone by the 2003 and 2004 Downbeat International Critics Poll, Rudresh Mahanthappa is one of the most innovative young musicians in jazz today. By incorporating the culture of his Indian ancestry, Rudresh has fused myriad influences to create a truly groundbreaking artistic vision. As a performer, he has led/co-led five groups to critical acclaim. His most recent quartet recording Mother Tongue on Pi Recordings has been named one of Top Ten Jazz CDs of 2004 by the Chicago Tribune, All About Jazz, and Jazzmatazz to name a few and also received four stars in Downbeat. This CD ranked eighth on U.S. jazz radio charts and remained at #1 on Canadian jazz radio charts for over a month. He has also worked as a sideman with such jazz luminaries as David Murray, Steve Coleman, Jack DeJohnette, Samir Chatterjee, Von Freeman, Tim Hagans, Fareed Haque, David Liebman, Greg Osby, and Dr. Lonnie Smith. As a composer, Mahanthappa has received commission grants from the Rockefeller Foundation MAP Fund, American Composers Forum, and the New York State Council on the Arts to develop new work. He received his Bachelors of Music Degree in jazz performance from Berklee College of Music and his Masters of Music degree in jazz composition from Chicago’s DePaul University.
Marcus Gilmore (born 1986) was inspired by the music of his grandfather, legendary jazz drummer Roy Haynes, who gave him his first set of drums at age 10. He is a graduate of the LaGuardia High School of Music, Art and Performing Arts in New York City and is currently attending the Manhattan School of Music. Marcus received the Wynton Kelly Foundation Award, the Wyoming Seminary PAI Best Instrumentalist Award, the Essentially Ellington Best Drum Solo Award, Vail Jazz Festival Ella Fitzgerald Scholarship, and the Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony. He has performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Monterey High School Jazz Band Japan Tour and the Gibson/Baldwin GRAMMY High School Jazz Ensembles. In 2003, Marcus performed at the 28th International Jazz Festival in Bern, Switzerland, as part of Clark Terry’s “Young Titans of Jazz.” The same band gave its New York debut at Birdland last fall. Gilmore also loves Afro-Cuban jazz and plays timbales and Latin percussion. He has performed with Steve Coleman, Ravi Coltrane, Vijay Iyer, John Clayton, Najee and others, and has sat in with Chick Corea, Ray Barretto, Branford Marsalis, Jimmy Heath, Wycliffe Gordon, and Roy Hargrove.
Stephan Crump (Bass) is a Memphis-bred bassist/composer whose music can be heard on his two acclaimed albums and in numerous films. He has performed and recorded in the U.S. and across the globe with a diverse list of musicians—from late blues legend Johnny Clyde Copeland to Portishead’s Dave McDonald, The Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano, Big Ass Truck, Dave Liebman, Sonny Fortune, Eddie Henderson and Bobby Previte, among others. Crump is currently a member of Gregg Bendian’s Mahavishnu Project and singer/songwriter Jen Chapin’s band.
Tickets to the Vijay Iyer Quartet are $22 ($18 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.