Performance Saturday, April 27, 2013 | 9:30 PM

Vijay Iyer: Solo, Trio, Sextet

Zankel Hall
Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer leads an evening of stunning music from his highly celebrated and award-winning solo and trio recordings, culminating in a rare set by his all-star sextet.

This concert is part of Late Nights at Zankel Hall.


  • Vijay Iyer, Piano
  • Stephan Crump, Bass
  • Tyshawn Sorey, Drums
  • Steve Lehman, Soprano and Alto Saxophones
  • Mark Shim, Tenor Saxophone
  • Graham Haynes, Cornet and Flugelhorn


  • Vijay Iyer

    Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer's most recent honors include an unprecedented "quintuple crown" in the DownBeat Critics Poll, winning in the Jazz Artist of the Year, Pianist of the Year, Jazz Album of the Year, Jazz Group of the Year (Vijay Iyer Trio), and Rising Star Composer categories. He just won Germany's 2013 ECHO Award for International Pianist of the Year. He was also recognized by the JazzTimes Critics Poll as the Artist of the Year, Pianist of the Year, Composer of the Year, and Best Acoustic / Mainstream Group of the Year (Vijay Iyer Trio). Iyer's other accolades include the $275,000 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and the $30,000 Greenfield Prize. He was voted the 2012 Pianist of the Year and 2010 Musician of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Global Indians by GQ India.

    Iyer has released 16 albums as a leader; his most recent, Accelerando (2012) is the widely acclaimed follow-up to the multiple award-winning Historicity (2009), both featuring the Vijay Iyer Trio (Iyer on piano, Marcus Gilmore on drums, and bassist Stephan Crump). Accelerando was named 2012's Jazz Album of the Year in the DownBeat, JazzTimes, and Rhapsody critics polls; and by National Public Radio, Los Angeles Times,, and Historicity was a 2010 Grammy nominee for Best Instrumental Jazz Album, and was named the top jazz album of 2009 by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Metro Times, National Public Radio,, The Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll, and the DownBeat Critics Poll. The trio won the 2010 ECHO Award for Best International Ensemble and the 2012 DownBeat Critics Poll for Jazz Group of the Year.

    Iyer's many other honors include the Alpert Award in the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and numerous composer commissions. His many collaborators include his generation's fellow forward-thinkers Rudresh Mahanthappa, Rez Abbasi, Craig Taborn, Ambrose Akinmusire, Liberty Ellman, Steve Lehman, and Tyshawn Sorey; elder creative music pioneers such as Steve Coleman, Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Butch Morris, George Lewis, and Amina Claudine Myers; new-music experimenters Miya Masaoka, Pamela Z, and John Zorn; hip-hop innovators Dead Prez, Das Racist, DJ Spooky, and High Priest of Antipop Consortium; South Asian percussionist-producers Karsh Kale, Suphala, and Talvin Singh; filmmakers Haile Gerima, Prashant Bhargava, and Bill Morrison; choreographer Karole Armitage; and poets Mike Ladd, Amiri Baraka, Charles Simic, and Robert Pinsky. His compositions have been commissioned and performed by the Silk Road Ensemble, Ethel, Brentano String Quartet, JACK Quartet, American Composers Orchestra, Hermès Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, and Imani Winds.

    A polymath whose career has spanned the sciences, the humanities, and the arts, Iyer received an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in the cognitive science of music from the University of California, Berkeley. He has been published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, The Wire, Music Perception, JazzTimes, Journal of the Society for American Music, Critical Studies in Improvisation, and anthologies Arcana IV, Sound Unbound, Uptown Conversation, The Best Writing on Mathematics 2010, and the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies. Iyer is on faculty at Manhattan School of Music, New York University, and The New School. He is also the director of The Banff Centre's International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, an annual three-week program in Alberta, Canada, founded by Oscar Peterson.

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  • Stephan Crump

    Memphis-bred, Grammy-nominated bassist-composer Stephan Crump is a rising star on the New York music scene. Shunning barriers of genre, he has performed and recorded in the US and across the globe with a diverse list of artists, from the late blues legend Johnny "Clyde" Copeland to Portishead's Dave McDonald, Patti Austin, the Violent Femmes' Gordon Gano, Big Ass Truck, Dave Liebman, Billy Hart, Sonny Fortune, Greg Osby, Kenny Werner, the Mahavishnu Project, and Bobby Previte, among others. As a longtime collaborator with adventurous jazz composers (since 1999 with Vijay Iyer), as well as guitar wizard Jim Campilongo and radiant singer-songwriter Jen Chapin, Crump has become known for the elegance and purposeful groove of his acoustic and electric bass playing, and for transforming his instrument into a speaking entity with magnetic pull on audiences.

    As a composer, Crump is emerging as a singular voice. His music can be heard in numerous films and on his six critically acclaimed albums, the latest of which, Reclamation, features his all-string Rosetta Trio. Crump launched his solo career as an invited artist at the 2009 International Society of Bassists conference and has since released two recordings that document his free-improvised duo collaborations with both alto saxophonist Steve Lehman and pianist James Carney. He is currently working on another collaboration with visionary guitarist-composer Mary Halvorson.

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  • Tyshawn Sorey

    Tyshawn Sorey is an active composer, performer, educator, and scholar who works across an extensive range of musical idioms. As a percussionist, trombonist, and pianist, Sorey has performed and/or recorded nationally and internationally with his own ensembles and with those led by Muhal Richard Abrams, Steve Coleman, Butch Morris, Peter Evans, Roscoe Mitchell, Misha Mengelberg, John Zorn, Vijay Iyer, Wadada Leo Smith, Dave Douglas, Anthony Braxton, Steve Lehman, and Tim Berne, among many others. His recent music has focused on concepts derived from the music of Morton Feldman and Zen Buddhism.

    Sorey's work has been favorably reviewed on National Public Radio and in JazzTimes, The Village Voice, The Wire, The New York Times, Modern Drummer, The Star-Ledger, and DownBeat. His forthcoming article in Arcana IV entitled "Music and Meaning" examines his approach to both composition and improvisation.

    Sorey received a bachelor's degree in jazz studies and performance from William Paterson University, where he studied with John Riley, James Williams, and Kevin Norton, while concurrently studying composition with Anton Vishio and John Link in addition to working in various settings under Peter Jarvis, director of the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble. In 2009, he began studying with composer-performer Anthony Braxton, Jay Hoggard, and Alvin Lucier, resulting in Sorey earning his master's in composition from Wesleyan University. He is currently a faculty fellow in Columbia University's Doctor of Musical Arts program with a concentration in composition, studying primarily under George Lewis.

    Sorey has also conducted and participated in various lectures and master classes on improvisation, contemporary drumming, ensemble playing, and critical theory at the International Realtime Music Symposium in Norway, Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln, School for Improvisational Music, Hochschule für Musik Nürnberg, Berklee College of Music, Birmingham Conservatoire in England, Cité de la Musique in Paris, Vallekilde Højskole in Denmark, and at The Banff Centre's International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music.

    Sorey has composed more than 160 works of all genres, including a recent commission from the International Contemporary Ensemble. He is currently a private instructor of composition and improvisation for The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and the School of Improvisational Music.

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  • Steve Lehman

    Steve Lehman is a composer, performer, educator, and scholar who works across a spectrum of experimental musical idioms. His pieces for large orchestra and chamber ensembles have been performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, So Percussion, Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, JACK Quartet, and Talea Ensemble. His recent recording-Travail, Transformation, and Flow-was chosen as the number one jazz album of the year by The New York Times.

    An alto saxophonist, Lehman has performed and recorded nationally and internationally with his own ensembles and with those led by Anthony Braxton, Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran, and Meshell Ndegeocello. His recent electro-acoustic music has focused on the development of computer-driven models for improvisation, based in the Max/MSP programming environment. Lehman's work has been favorably reviewed in Artforum, DownBeat, The New York Times, Newsweek, and The Wire, and on National Public Radio, the BBC, and SWR.

    As a Fulbright Scholar in France during the 2002-2003 academic year, Lehman began researching the reception of African-American experimental composers working in France during the 1970s. His article in the journal Critical Studies in Improvisation, "I Love You with an Asterisk: African-American Experimental Composers and the French Jazz Press, 1970-1980," is based on his Fulbright research. More recently, Lehman has published writings and presented lectures on a wide range of topics, including jazz pedagogy, rhythm cognition, and European notions of American experimentalism. His current scholarship, including a contribution to Arcana VI and his recent doctoral dissertation, examines the overlapping histories of spectral music and jazz improvisation.

    Lehman received bachelor's and master's degrees from Wesleyan University, where he studied with Anthony Braxton, Jay Hoggard, and Alvin Lucier, while concurrently working with Jackie McLean at the Hartt School of Music. He received his doctorate with distinction in music composition from Columbia University, where his principal teachers included Tristan Murail and George Lewis.

    Lehman has taught undergraduate courses at Wesleyan University, the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, The New School, and Columbia University, in addition to presenting lectures at Amherst College, UC Berkeley, Berklee College of Music, The Banff Centre, Royal Academy of Music in London, and IRCAM in Paris, where he was a 2011 researcher fellow.

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  • Mark Shim

    Jamaican-born saxophonist Mark Shim has toured and recorded with many influential and legendary musicians, including Betty Carter, Elvin Jones, David Murray, Al Foster, and Terence Blanchard to name a few. Shim has also made three critically acclaimed recordings for the prestigious Blue Note label: Mind Over Matter (1998), New Directions (1999), and Turbulent Flow (2000).

    As one of the few saxophonists of the last 20 years with an instantly recognizable sound, Shim has also made a name for himself as a versatile producer and composer. With this penchant for composition and production, as well as a unique knowledge of electronics and rhythmic concepts, highly anticipated future projects are in the works that will showcase all of Shim's distinctive qualities.

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  • Graham Haynes

    Regarded as an innovator on cornet and flugelhorn, an extraordinary composer, and an emerging force in contemporary electronic music and world music, Graham Haynes has redefined and deconstructed that genre we still call "jazz."

    The youngest son of jazz drummer Roy Haynes, Graham was born in 1960 and raised in Queens. His two years at Queens College-during which he honed his skills in composition, harmony, and theory-spurred his interest in classical and electronic music. He studied privately with Gillespie alumnus Dave Burns, while playing in the Pentecostal church.

    In 1979, he met alto saxophonist Steve Coleman. Together, they formed a band called Five Elements, which launched the M-Base collective, an influential group of New York improvisers. Haynes spent much of the 1980s collaborating with Coleman and Cassandra Wilson. In the late 1980s, he formed his own ensemble, Graham Haynes and No Image, and recorded his first album as a leader, What Time It Be?.

    During the late 1980s, Haynes immersed himself in a wide range of African, Arabic, and South Asian music, prompting his move to Paris in 1990. It was there that he recorded Nocturne Parisian and The Griots Footsteps.

    Haynes spent the next three years studying and performing with masters of African and Asian music, occasionally returning to New York to work with such artists as Ed Blackwell, George Russell, Uri Caine, and David Murray. In 1993, Haynes moved back to New York City, where he began investigating sampling and hip-hop music. The album Transition came out of this investigation. His next project, Tones for the 21st Century, combined sound effects, textures, drones, and samples, layered over Haynes's electronically manipulated horn.

    In total, Haynes has recorded 15 critically acclaimed CDs as a leader and countless CDs as a side person with such artists as Steve Coleman, Roy Haynes, Ed Blackwell, Abbey Lincoln, Cassandra Wilson, Sting, Butch Morris, The Roots, David Murray, and Karl Berger.

    Haynes is currently an adjunct professor at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.

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Vijay Iyer Trio
Act Music & Vision

Jeff Tamarkin on Vijay Iyer

At some point in every great artist's career, terms like "rising star" and "up-and-coming" simply no longer apply. It's difficult to say exactly when Vijay Iyer made that transition, but there's absolutely no doubt that this extraordinarily gifted pianist and visionary composer has finally and definitively ascended beyond being the "next big thing."

None of that, however, is Iyer's concern: Jazz critics may still routinely scramble for new superlatives to bestow upon him with each award and magazine cover the native of Upstate New York notches, but like most artists, Iyer prefers to focus on what's ahead, not on past accomplishments.

Ask the 41-year-old son of Indian Tamil immigrants what he's working on, and he unreels a list of planned projects so long you wonder how he keeps track of it all. "I'm on the road a lot," he says, "and I've also been composing, writing chamber music. I've got a nice run of recent commissions—I wrote a piece last year for the Silk Road Ensemble and they're going to record it. I also did something for the string quartet Brooklyn Rider and something for the Bang on a Can All-Stars. I wrote a large project for the International Contemporary Ensemble in collaboration with filmmaker Prashant Bhargava—we premiered the work just last month. I also did a large project with Mike Ladd, the poet—a collaboration with young veterans from the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sometimes I just get nice opportunities," he adds after taking a short breath, in something of an understatement.

Iyer, it seems, hasn't stopped creating at that level of prolificacy since he first emerged on the jazz scene nearly two decades ago. He's released more than a dozen highly regarded albums as a leader—the most recent of which, last year's Accelerando, picked up just about every Album of the Year award jazz has to offer—and he's collaborated with an astounding array of artists in numerous disciplines. "Sometimes I just like a challenge that makes me step a little outside of my comfort zone," he says.

For all of his planning though, one thing Iyer keeps open-ended is where the next gig will take him. He knows that his April 27 Zankel Hall performance will feature his pianistic brilliance in solo, trio, and sextet configurations, but that's about it. "One reason I don't plan our set lists 100 percent is that so much depends on what happens, how the performance is going," he says. "With improvisational music, any given piece can manifest in a lot of different ways. So you want to be able to deal—not only with what you want to have happen, but with what actually happens. Hopefully, everyone is coming along with you every step of the way. I imagine it as a conversation with the audience. I never forget that the audience is there. I'm thinking about them every second—not just thinking about them, but listening to them, too."

—Jeff Tamarkin is the associate editor of JazzTimes magazine.
This concert and the Shape of Jazz series are made possible by The Joyce and George Wein Foundation in memory of Joyce Wein.

Presented by Carnegie Hall in partnership with Absolutely Live Entertainment LLC.
Carnegie Hall 's presentation of the Vijay Iyer Sextet is supported by Presenting Jazz, a program of Chamber Music America funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
This performance is part of The Shape of Jazz.

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