Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Iyer, Vijay (Vijay Srinivas Raghunathan)

Iyer, Vijay [Vijay Srinivas Raghunathan], violin, piano; b. Albany, NY, 26 October 1971. His last name was changed to Iyer in 1993; Iyer is a generic "clan" surname--many others in the family use the name. Vijay uses it for both simplicity and accuracy. He grew up (1974-1988) in Fairport, NY, a suburb of Rochester, NY. His father is Y. Raghunathan (b. 1933) and his mother is Sita Raghunathan (b. 1942). Both parents came to the US in 1963-4 as immigrants from India. His sister, Pratima Raghunathan(b. 1968), is an amateur pianist.

Vijay studied violin privately 1975-1990. His teachers included Oliver Steiner (1985-88). He also played violin in school orchestras and Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. He began picking out melodies on piano at age six. No formal training as a pianist/composer; brief coursework in music theory and improvisation at Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY (off and on from 1985-87) while in high school.

From 1988-1992, he attended Yale University, where he graduated with B.S. in Mathematics & physics, magna cum laude and was a member Phi Beta Kappa. From 1992-1995, he was a graduate student in Ph.D. program in Physics, University of California at Berkeley. He earned M.A. in Physics in 1994. In 1995, he switched to self-styled interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Technology and the Arts at University of California at Berkeley, with a focus on music and cognitive science. His main professors were David Wessel, Olly Wilson, and George Lewis (AACM trombonist and professor of music at University of California, San Diego). He graduated with Ph.D. in December 1998. Moved to New York City immediately afterward with then-fiancee, now wife, Christina Sunita Leslie (b. 1969, kept her birth name after marriage in 1999).

In addition to ongoing New York engagements, Iyer has traveled worldwide as a leader and a sideman, appearing at festivals and concerts in Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America. He has performed extensively as a featured artist with Roscoe Mitchell's Note Factory, Greg Tate's Burnt Sugar, and Amiri Baraka's Blue Ark. In addition, he has collaborated extensively with Steve Coleman, on stage and on disc. He was dubbed one of the "new stars of jazz" by U.S. News & World Report, and one of "today's most important pianists" by The New Yorker.

Memorophilia (1995); Architextures (1996); Panoptic Modes (2000); Blood Sutra (2003)

Recordings as a co-leader:
Fieldwork (w/ saxophonist Aaron Stewart & drummer Elliot Humberto Kavee): Your Life Flashes (2002); Vijay Iyer & Mike Ladd: In What Language? (2003)

As sideperson:
Burnt Sugar: Blood on the Leaf (1999); That Depends on What You Know (2000); The Rites (with Pete Cosey, Melvin Gibbs & Butch Morris, 2002); Steve Coleman: Myths, Modes & Means (1995), Genesis (1997), The Sonic Language of Myth (1998), The Ascension to Light (1999); Roscoe Mitchell: Song for My Sister (2002); Liberty Ellman: Orthodoxy (1997); Midnight Voices: Howling at the Moon (1997); Miya Masaoka (koto): What is the Difference between Stripping and Playing the Violin? (1997); Rudresh Mahanthappa: Black Water (2002)

Radio and television broadcasts:
WNYC's Soundcheck, June & December 2002, May 2003.
WNYC's Studio 360 (syndicated internationally on PRI), fall 2002.
Fieldwork performed on BET on Jazz, "Live from the Knitting Factory," fall 2002.
Raw Materials (duo with Rudresh Mahanthappa) recorded live for Radio Svizzera, Lugano, Switzerland, 2001.
Various performances on KPFA, Berkeley, 1995-2000.
Numerous appearances for European radio & TV as a sideman with Steve Coleman, 1995-1999, and Roscoe Mitchell, 2001.

Unissued recordings:
Vijay Iyer: AstroChromatic (1997)
Many hours of unissued live audio and video, 1994-2002, with Steve Coleman, Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, James Newton, Cecil Taylor, J.D. Parran, John Tchicai, percussionist Trichy Sankaran, Samir Chatterjee, Miya Masaoka, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Liberty Ellman, Aaron Stewart, others.

Bill Bennett, "Hearsay: Vijay Iyer." JazzTimes, January/February 2002, p. 32.
Jim Cho, "Fresh Sounds." A. Magazine, June/July 1999, p. 40.
Paula Fayerman, "Much more than Indo-jazz fusion: Raw Materials questions the process of inquiry and critique."  FFWD: Fast Forward Weekly (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), Vol 8 No 22 (June 19-25, 2003), p. 29.
Matt Galloway, "Piano marvel Vijay Iyer spices up Desh Pardesh." NOW Magazine (Toronto), June 6-12, 1996.
Gary Giddins, "Work in Progress: Dissertations on the percussive school." The Village Voice, April 17, 2001, p. 74.
Elizabeth Goodwin, "Vijay Iyer." Jazz Now, March 1999, p. 19.
Steven Graybow, "Jazz Notes: Into the abyss."   Billboard vol 114 no 42 (Oct 19, 2002), p. 50.
Hua Hsu, "Invisible Cities, Invisible Men: A jazz pianist and a hip-hop poet catch language in the balance." The Village Voice, May 7, 2003, p. 44.
Larry Kelp, "The Keys to Knowledge."   The East Bay Express (Berkeley, CA), April 24, 1998, p. 25.
Ted Panken, "Indian Roots Discovery." Downbeat, February 2002, p. 18.
Derk Richardson, "Microstructures of feel: Vijay Iyer's music wrestles his intellect into sound." San Francisco Bay Guardian, Jan 30-Feb 5, 2002, p. 40.
Martin Schuster, "Neuartige Pianosounds aus New York: Vijay Iyer." Concerto Magazine (Austria), April/May 2002, p. 35.
Adam Shatz, "New seekers in jazz look to the East."   The New York Times, Sunday, November 23, 1997, Arts & Leisure section, p. 42.
Bill Shoemaker, "First Generation Creativity: Bill Shoemaker talks to pianist Vijay Iyer." Jazz Review (UK magazine), January 2003, p. 5.
Julia Sommer, "Jazz pianist Vijay Iyer combines art and technology."   The Berkeleyan, April 15-21, 1998.
Neil Tesser, "Critic's Choice: Vijay Iyer." Chicago Reader vol 26 #5, November 1, 1996.
J. H. Tompkins, "Vijay Iyer: The stories of sound." In "GOLDIES '96: Presenting the eighth annual Guardian Outstanding Local Discovery Awards."
San Francisco Bay Guardian, September 18-24, 1996.
J. H. Tompkins, "FYI: Vijay Iyer." Option Magazine #71 (Nov/Dec 1996), p. 27.
Lisa Tsering, "Jazz pianist Vijay Iyer: Forging a unique musical statement." India West, April 24, 1998, p. C-1.
Kelvin Leander Williams, Homegrown: Vijay Iyer. Time Out New York no. 349 (June 6-13, 2002), p. 42.

Publications by Iyer:
2004 "Exploding the Narrative in Jazz Improvisation." In B. Edwards, F. Griffin, and R. O'Meally, ed., Uptown Conversation: New Essays in Jazz Studies. New York: Columbia University Press.
2002 "Being Home: Jazz Authority and the Politics of Place." Current Musicology 71-73: 462-476.
2002 "Embodied Mind, Situated Cognition, and Expressive Microtiming in African-American Music." Music Perception 19(3): 387-414.
1998 Microstructures of Feel, Macrostructures of Sound: Embodied Cognition in West African and African-American Musics. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.   Available at http://cnmat.cnmat.berkeley.edu/People/Vijay/
1997 Iyer, V., Bilmes, J., Wright, M., and Wessel, D. "A Novel Representation for Rhythmic Structure." Proceedings of the 1997 International Computer Music Conference (San Francisco: International Computer Music Association), 97-100.
1996 "Steve Coleman, M-Base, and Musical Collectivism." Published at: http://www.cnmat.berkeley.edu/~vijay/toc.html

Websites that contain interviews or profiles:

Awards & Grants:
2003:   Recipient of the CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts, http://www.alpertawards.org
2002:   Recipient (with poet Mike Ladd) of Creative Capital Project Grant
2002:   Recipient of New York State Council on the Arts Individual Artists Grant
2001:   Recipient (with Mike Ladd) of the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust Commissioning Grant
2001:   Recipient (as Raw Materials) of the Rockefeller Foundation's Multi-Arts Production Fund Grant for commissioned premiere in New York City
2000:   Recipient (as the Manodharma Trio) of the Rockefeller Foundation's Multi-Arts Production Fund Grant for commission & performances with the Jazz Institute of Chicago
1998:   Travel grant from the Fund for U.S. Artists at International Festivals & Exhibitions
1996:   San Francisco Bay Guardian Outstanding Local Discovery Award ("GOLDIE")
1992:   First Prize, Marvin J. Wolff Bay Area Jazz Piano Competition

Contact information:
web:    http://www.vijay-iyer.com/
email: vijay@vijay-iyer.com

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