Transmissions :: Vijay Iyer

This week on the show, a conversation with pianist, composer, bandleader, and writer, Vijay Iyer. He’s been at it since 1995, recording for labels like Savoy, Pi, and ECM, and he’s collaborated with a diverse and inspiring roster along the way including Amiri Baraka, Matana Roberts, Das Racist, previous Transmissions guest Wadada Leo Smith, and many more. His records have incorporated electronic music and spoken word, chamber jazz reverence and loose, free falling blues. 

Last year, in collaboration with vocalist Arooj Aftab and bassist Shazhad Ismaily, he released Love in Exile on the Verve label. Writing about the album for our 2023 Year in Review, we called it “A spectral meeting of the minds. This haunting and luminous se…locates a nexus between ambient, jazz, and classical, all while feeling entirely conjured in the moment—because it was.” 

Now he’s back with a new ECM release, Compassion, and in another trio, reuniting with his bandmates on 2021’s stirring Uneasy, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Tyshawn Sorey. Produced by Manfred Eicher, it’s a stunning listen start to finish, from its meditative and expansive title track to the dug down groove of “Ghostrumental,” a startling showcase for may Han Oh’s thoughtful melodicism, to the thoughtfully chosen covers of Roscoe Mitchell’s “Nonaah” and Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed,” everything about Compassion demonstrates the intentional focus of Iyer and his collaborators.

He joins host Jason P. Woodbury to speak about it, reflect on the post-pandemic nebulousness in the air, discuss his mentors Greg Tate and Baraka, and much more. 

For heads, by heads. Aquarium Drunkard is powered by its patrons. Keep the servers humming and help us continue doing it by pledging your support via our Patreon page. Transmissions is part of the Talkhouse Podcast Network. Join us next week for a conversation with John Lurie.

Weekly podcast companion for the Aquarium Drunkard music blog / SIRIUS XMU satellite radio show. Sound collage, old-school, free-form radio.

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