Vijay Iyer Trio: Newport Jazz 2009 He's a powerhouse pianist and a polymath composer as likely to be inspired by theatrical works and South Asian music as mathematics and progressive jazz. His versatile trio plays live.

Viyay Iyer Trio performs at Newport Jazz. Wiqan Ang hide caption

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Wiqan Ang

Viyay Iyer Trio performs at Newport Jazz.

Wiqan Ang

Newport Jazz Festival

Vijay Iyer Trio: Newport Jazz 2009WGBH Radio

Vijay Iyer Trio: Newport Jazz 2009

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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.

Set List

  • "Historicity" (Iyer)
  • "Big Brother" (Stevie Wonder)
  • "Somewhere" (Bernstein)
  • "Mystic Brew" (Ronnie Foster)
  • "Dogon A.D." (Julius Hemphill)
  • "Our Lives" (Iyer)
  • "Smoke Stack" (Andrew Hill)
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