2

Vijay Iyer Solo at San Francisco Performances

Harry S. Pariser By

Sign in to view read count
Vijay Iyer
San Francisco Performances
San Francisco, CA
November 16, 2013

Polymath, pianist, arranger, composer, Grammy nominee, creative program director, a doctorate holder, the recipient of a 2013 MacArthur "genius" fellowship, the recipient of a groundbreaking "quintuple crown" in the 2012 Down Beat International Critics Poll, as well as a "quadruple crown" in the JazzTimes extended critics poll. Soon to be a Harvard Professor. Declared Pianist of the Year for both 2012 and 2013 by the Jazz Journalists Association. Winner of the 2013 ECHO Award (the "German Grammy") for best international pianist.

Who is this wunderkind? The answer is Vijay Iyer. A Bay Area performing artist before seeking and finding acclaim in New York City, Iyer has been the Artist-in-Residence for SF Performances for the past four years.

On a chilly November Saturday evening, Iyer, donned in a white shirt, dark suit and purple shawl, took the stage of SFJazz in downtown San Francisco. Walking out to his gleaming Steinway, he seated himself on the bench.

Following a moment of contemplation (having had no set list, his performance selections were chosen in the moment), he leaned forward, his fingers reflecting off the black mirrorlike shine of his Steinway, hands prancing up and down the keyboards, launching into a thoughtful and considered medley of some of his compositions from his Open City Large Ensemble Project, a coalition featuring 20 musicians, a rapper and novelist Teju Cole, whose novel Open City gave that ensemble its name. At various, and sometimes overlapping times, the music was stately, elegant, lyrical, percussive, poetic, sensual and flowing.

Standing he took a bow, as he did after every song. He then launched boldly into "Work," a marvelous composition by pianist Thelonious Monk, presumably a major influence.

Next up, the Randy Weston-influenced "Spellbound and Sacrosanct, Cowrie Shells and the Shimmering Sea" began soft and silently, as Iyer almost massaged the keys. Flowing, delicate and nuanced, the tune ended with a meditative pause. Then, he began "Accumulated Gestures," as his right hand firmly pressed the keys, his fingers canterwauling, moving rapidfire, which lent a percussive edge to the piece.

Addressing the audience, he remarked "Thanks for coming. I'm so grateful. What I've been doing tonight is a lot of things I have never done solo in public before." After a pause, he continued: "When you put yourself at risk, you become a new version of yourself. I've been working with Trio Three—a group comprised of bassist Reggie Workman, drummer Andrew Cyrille, and saxophonist Oliver Lake. "I never thought I would be asking to hear more Reggie Workman in my headphones," he declared.

He went on to introduce the poignant and layered "Suite for Trayvon and Thousands More," a tune penned because "it (violence against young Blacks) keeps happening."

Iyer then sat silently for a long moment before he began the classic "Body and Soul," launched with a percussive roar, foot on the pedal fingering spiderlike. "Countdown" followed. Then he stood again and, after placing his hand over his heart, he departed, only to return with Duke Ellington's "Black and White Fantasy" from his Solo CD."

Shop

More Articles

Read Mark Hagan's Jazz Salon At The Old 76 House Live Reviews Mark Hagan's Jazz Salon At The Old 76 House
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Anat Cohen at Davidson College Live Reviews Anat Cohen at Davidson College
by Perry Tannenbaum
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's Live Reviews Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's
by Mike Jacobs
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Vossajazz 2017 Live Reviews Vossajazz 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: April 21, 2017
Read Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson at JazzNights Live Reviews Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson at JazzNights
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "The Donny McCaslin Group at The Arden Gild Hall" Live Reviews The Donny McCaslin Group at The Arden Gild Hall
by Mike Jacobs
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "The Zombies at NYCB Theatre at Westbury" Live Reviews The Zombies at NYCB Theatre at Westbury
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: June 4, 2016
Read "Amethyst at McHughs, Belfast" Live Reviews Amethyst at McHughs, Belfast
by Ian Patterson
Published: August 16, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!