Vijay Iyer

Red Giant Records is proud to announce
the latest release by the esteemed young composer-pianist
VIJAY IYER: Panoptic Modes
Click here for Liner Notes

Dubbed a rising star by Time Out New York, Vijay Iyer is a singular talent ­ a forceful, rhythmic pianist who weds a cutting-edge sensibility to a unique sense for compositional balance. In a recent feature on Iyer, Village Voice critic Gary Giddins wrote, “he has aligned himself with the percussive school of jazz piano ­ Ellington, Hines, Monk, Powell, Taylor, Nichols, Weston, Tyner, and the rest ­ and you can hear the influences at work, but he doesn’t sound like any of them” His sound is his own, and you would recognize it in a blindfold test.” An exceptional, forward-thinking composer, Mr. Iyer draws from African, Asian, and European musical lineages to create highly original music in the creative jazz tradition. His new album manages to be highly emotional and structurally sophisticated at the same time, with exuberant improvisations anchored in cyclical rhythmic structures and ringing harmonies.

Mr. Iyer’s group features some of New York’s superb up-and-coming talents. Foremost among the pianist’s collaborators is the astounding alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, with whom Mr. Iyer shares a unique artistic bond. In a review in the New York Times, Ben Ratliff observed, “One of the best things a young bandleader can hope to do is forge a strong communicative link with one member of his band: it creates a charged, nearly tensile energy that the rest of the group can orient itself around. This is what Vijay Iyer has done with the alto saxophonist in his quartet.” Rounded out by the gifted bassist Stephan Crump (from Bobby Previte’s ensembles) and fiery young drummer Derrek Phillips (Greg Osby’s current choice), the Vijay Iyer Quartet projects equal parts passion and precision. Gary Giddins puts it succinctly: “This band glows with purpose.”

“bracingly expressionist jazz.. full of pulsating blues.”
– The New York Times

“powerful.. a wild card.. a singular take on piano rhythm.”
-Time Out New York

“an oncoming phenomenon, already up to his fingers in the most advanced music of our wildly contradictory age.”
– Amiri Baraka

“impressive.. Iyer’s spiky chords, precise phrasing, and surprising linear improvisations are consistently compelling.”
-Gary Giddins, The Village Voice

ArchThe son of Indian immigrants, Mr. Iyer was born and raised in upstate New York, where he started violin lessons at the age of three. Drawn to his sister’s piano, he started picking out melodies at age six. Entirely self-taught as a pianist and composer, he was lured into jazz in his teens, performing original music with his own groups throughout college. His choice of a professional musical career came rather late, after earning a Masters in physics at age 22. Then, as his musical accomplishments multiplied, he still found time to earn an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in music and cognitive science at U.C. Berkeley in 1998, after which he immediately relocated to the jazz mecca, New York City. In addition to frequent New York engagements, Mr. Iyer has traveled worldwide as both a leader and a sideman. He is currently a member of legendary avant-garde pioneer Roscoe Mitchell¹s nine-piece Note Factory. In addition, he collaborated extensively for six years with the world-renowned saxophonist and composer Steve Coleman, appearing at countless major festivals in Europe and Africa and on four of Coleman’s BMG recordings. Mr. Iyer has also joined forces with innovative artists such as Cecil Taylor, George Lewis, Gerry Hemingway, ROVA Saxophone Quartet, kotoist Miya Masaoka, drum & bass diva Imani Uzuri, hip-hop group Midnight Voices, Indian percussionist Trichy Sankaran, and legendary poet Amiri Baraka. All of Mr. Iyer’s artistic alliances exemplify his commitment to new, creative forms of musical expression that reflect his diverse community.

“keyboard visionary.. phenomenally talented.”
– San Francisco Bay Guardian

“a composer and performer of international significance.”
– San Francisco Chronicle

“clearly an immense musical talent.”

“Iyer’s versatile ivory skills approximate violence one moment, pristine beauty the next.”
– Wire

“stunning, understated but powerful…”
– Option

archbandPrior to this album, Iyer released two critically acclaimed discs of original music on Asian Improv Records. The first, Memorophilia, recorded when Iyer was 23 years old, was listed by Cadence magazine editor Bob Rusch as one of the ten best albums of 1996, and by A. Magazine as one of “the 15 most interesting sounds of the decade.” His follow-up, Architextures, was hailed as “utterly remarkable” in’s roundup of the ten best jazz records of 2000 (where he was listed alongside Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis), and as “genius… epitomizing new jazz at its best” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Panoptic Modes, Mr. Iyer’s third album, is a breathtaking, dynamic work of maturity and vision. Gary Giddins suggests that it “whets the appetite for his fourth,” and describes it as “boldly shaping the direction of jazz to come.”