Vijay Iyer might be a genius. He has a master's degree in physics, an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Technology and the Arts from Berkeley. He's also a largely self-taught pianist — and a powerhouse player at that — and composer for string quartet, theatre, film, orchestra, spoken-word multimedia, free improvisation, ESPN commercials, etc. And as a jazz bandleader, his quartets and trios translate his post-idiomatic artistic outlook into spiky, supercharged songs.
Iyer's forthcoming trio disc Historicity, featuring longtime collaborator Stephan Crump on bass and young phenom Marcus Gilmore on drums, represents yet another twist. It's largely an album that revisits some of what he sees as seminal works, be they from adventurous jazz legends (Andrew Hill, Julius Hemphill), modern pop stars (M.I.A.) or his own early recorded compositions. Those covers, reoriented by the sensibilities of Iyer's trio, will be among the highlights of his set at Newport, opening the action at the Harbor stage on Saturday.
- "Historicity" (Iyer)
- "Big Brother" (Stevie Wonder)
- "Somewhere" (Bernstein)
- "Mystic Brew" (Ronnie Foster)
- "Dogon A.D." (Julius Hemphill)
- "Our Lives" (Iyer)
- "Smoke Stack" (Andrew Hill)