Congratulations to Vijay Iyer for winning a MacArthur this past week! In addition to his provocative music, Vijay is one of the most -- if not the most -- politically active jazz musicians in history. Every time his career advances, he makes sure to shine the light on contemporary problems. Fabulous.
I admit I don't know all of Vijay's work as well as I should, mainly because I don't want to be influenced by it. The record I keep in steady rotation is Hafez Modirzadeh's Post-Chromodal Out! with Amir El Saffar, Vijay, Ken Filiano and Royal Hartigan. Vijay's de-tuned piano is simply burning on this.
Destination: Out! has re-upped some live Vijay trio tracks from 2009 with intriguing commentary by composer.
Someone suggested to me recently that the biggest influences on current jazz were Steve Coleman on one side and Wynton and Branford Marsalis on the other. Could be true! Both sides came of age in the 80's, and I suppose my whole generation dealt with them in some way or another. They also all going strong: If I were 20 again, I'm sure I'd be listening to all their latest records.
Now that Miguel Zenon, Dafnis Prieto, and Vijay have all received a MacArthur, it only seems fair that Steve Coleman would be next on the list. Surely Miguel, Dafnis, and Vijay would all agree that Steve was a crucial trailblazer and style-setter for their own explorations.
Also last week Terence Blanchard and Branford Marsalis had a candid conversation with Jeff Tamarkin for JazzTimes. A very interesting read!