Greatest 21st Century Pianist: Vijay Iyer

Written By Sonny Akbar Sembada

Hi, my name is Sonny Akbar Sembada and I welcome you to my blog, The Uncle Jazz. The main topic of my blog is everything related to jazz music.. 

Greatest 21st Century Pianist Vijay Iyer, known as the “jack-of-all-trades” according to The New York Times — you know, a mix of a social butterfly, tech geek, deep thinker, and cultural ninja — has been rocking the music scene in the 21st century.

So, this dude is the greatest 21st century pianist, as both a composer and a piano maestro, has been cooking up tunes that are like a rollercoaster of emotions for a solid 25 years. No wonder folks see him as one of the cool cats in the music biz.

The Multifaceted Maestro – Greatest 21st Century Pianist

He’s got a shelf full of awards: MacArthur Fellowship, Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, some Grammy nods, Alpert Award in the Arts, and even bagged a couple of “Echo” awards from Germany. Oh, and he’s been Downbeat Magazine’s Jazz Artist of the Year not once, not twice, but four times in the last ten years. Talk about street cred!

Musical Fusion and Discography

Iyer’s music vibe is this killer mix of South Asian and West African beats, vibes from the funky 60s and 70s, and a touch of those legendary pianists from back in the day. He’s dropped twenty-four albums, with his latest jam “UnEasy” (ECM Records, 2021) featuring a trio with drummer Tyshawn Sorey and bassist Linda May Han Oh.

Read also: Brilliant Jazz Composer and Trumpeter: Clifford Brown

Beyond the Keys: Classical Endeavors and Global Presence

Apart from being a music wizard, he’s also composing for classical folks and soloists. His tunes have been played by big names and cool groups. Recently, he’s been hanging out as a music guru at London’s Wigmore Hall, running the show at the Ojai Music Festival, and being an art wizard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Endless Innovation and Collaborative Projects

This guy never stops! He’s done big-band beats for Arturo O’Farrill and Darcy James Argue, spiced up classical tracks by Talvin Singh and Meredith Monk, and jammed with legends like Henry Threadgill and Zakir Hussain. Plus, he’s cooked up some mind-blowing projects with cool folks like Teju Cole, Carrie Mae Weems, and more.

Youtube video by NPR Music

“Love in Exile” and the Verve Records Journey

Oh, and he dropped “Love in Exile” with Arooj Aftab and Shazad Ismaily. You can find it on Verve Records.

Living the Dream and Sharing Wisdom

Living the dream in Harlem with the fam, Vijay also shares his musical wisdom at Harvard University. Yep, he’s a Steinway artist, because why not?

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