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This is the fifty first in a series of special Jazz on the Tube reviews of live stream performances.

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Vijay Iyer is considered one of the most significant jazz pianists of the past 20 years, a deep thinker whose music is always unpredictable and creative.

He had 15 years of classical training as a violinist but was mostly self-taught as a pianist.

Originally Iyer had planned to become a physicist (his undergraduate degree is in math and physics) but instead he turned towards music, performing locally in the San Francisco Bay area and in 1994 working with Steve Coleman and George Lewis.

Since the late 1990s he has worked with a long list of notable artists in the jazz avant-garde including Rudresh Mahanthappa, Wadada Leo Smith, Roscoe Mitchell, Oliver Lake, Henry Threadgill, Yosvany Terry, and many others in addition to leading a couple of dozen albums of his own and also making his mark as a composer and an educator.

Some of Vijay Iyer’s most accessible playing is as a solo pianist and he is heard in that setting on this LiveStream from Apr. 27, 2020.

The music starts about five minutes in as Iyer launches into a 20-minute improvisation that sometimes hints a little at Thelonious Monk and builds up in intensity as it progresses before becoming quieter and utilizing a bassline a bit reminiscent of Lennie Tristano.

He follows it up with a Duke Ellington ballad, a concise original, a fresh interpretation of “Night And Day” and a spiritual piece.

This LiveStream serves as an excellent introduction to Vijay Iyer’s playing.

-Scott Yanow

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April 27, 2020

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Mads Tolling
Kev Choice

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