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Award-winning pianist/composer Vijay Iyer closes 2017-18 Jazz Series

Grammy Award-nominated pianist/composer/bandleader/electronic musician and writer Vijay Iyer and his five-person band closes Lawrence University 2017-18 Jazz Series Friday, May 11 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Tickets for the performance, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Vijay Iyer
Vijay Iyer. Photo by Jimmy Katz.

A New York native — born in Albany, raised in Fairport — the multi-talented Iyer began playing the piano by ear as a child and mostly self-taught on the instrument.

That hasn’t prevented him from earning Downbeat magazine’s Jazz Artist of the Year honors in 2012, 2015 and 2016. He was named  Artist of the Year in Jazz Times’ Critics’ Poll and Readers’ Poll for 2017.

His numerous accolades also include Musician of the Year honors from the Jazz Journalists Association in 2010 and being named one of the 50 Most Influential Global Indians by GQ India in 2011.

“It is a great honor to have Vijar Iyer close our Jazz Series,” said José Encarnación, assistant professor of music and director of jazz studies at Lawrence. “As a pianist and composer Mr. Iyer will bring his own unique style, a style that pushes the edges of modern jazz’s contours with a lyrical and elegant approach to improvisation. This will be a concert full of ingenuity, grace and distinction.”

In addition to his current sextet — horn player Graham Haynes, alto saxophonist Steve Lehman, tenor saxophonist Mark Shim, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore — Iyer has led several distinct combos, including Spirit Complex, The Poisonous Prophets and the Vijar Iyer Trio. He has collaborated with some of the most important contemporary jazz pioneers, including Steve Coleman, Rudresh Mahanthappa and the “king of the hip-hop concept” Mike Ladd, among others.

Iyer’s discography spans 21 albums, including 2017’s “Far From Over” with the Vijay Iyer Sextet. The album was atop numerous year-end critics polls, while Rolling Stone magazine hailed it as “2017’s jazz album to beat.” His 2013 album, “Holding it Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project,” a politically searing collaboration with poet-performer Mike Ladd, was named Album of the Year by the Los Angeles Times.

Vijay Iyer Sextet
The Vijay Iyer Sextet includes drummer Marcus Gilmore, Iyer, horn player Graham Haynes, tenor saxophonist Mark Shim, alto saxophonist Steve Lehman and bassist Stephan Crump. Photo by Lynne Harty.

Iyer, who earned a Ph.D. in    an interdisciplinary study of the cognitive science of music from the University of California, earned one of the country’s most coveted awards in 2013, a $500,000 “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

As a composer, he his commissions have earned world premieres performed by such notable artists as Imani Winds, The Silk Road Ensemble, Brentano Quartet, Bang on a Can All-Stars, among others.

Iyer serves as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts at Harvard University as well as the director of the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.