Vijay Iyer brings Far From Over to the CAC for two nights, 11/30–12/1

The acclaimed jazz pianist Vijay Iyer last played in New Orleans at the Contemporary Arts Center in 2015, with an improvisational trio featuring saxophonist Steve Lehman and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey. That gig was in the theater as part of the HIP Fest. I wrote about it here. On Friday and Saturday Iyer returns with his regular sextet to play two nights in the recently renovated warehouse space at the CAC. They should both be gigs for the record books.

Iyer is a polymath who has his foot in many different disciplines and is one of the most important young jazz artists on the scene today. His latest album, Far From Over, hit #1 on the Billboard jazz chart. He has been voted DownBeat magazine’s “Artist of the Year” four times—in 2018, 2016, 2015, and 2012—and “Artist of the Year” in Jazz Times‘ Critics’ and Readers’ Polls for 2018.

Needless to say these performances are special for jazz lovers and for the New Orleans music community in general. Though it’s rare for a performer of his stature, he’s one of the youngest artists to receive a McArthur Fellowship (the so-called “genius grant”), to play in New Orleans outside of the Jazz Festival, the CAC has been aggressively booking cutting edge jazz talent for the last couple of years. The same space hosted New Orleans’ own trumpeter Christian Scott and pan-Latin jazz saxophonist Miguel Zenón.

Though Iyer rose to fame as a jazz musician, he has written and performed classical music. He holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in the cognitive science of music from the University of California, Berkeley and has published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, the Journal of the Society for American Music, and other academic publications.

But all that praise is literally academic when it comes to his live performances especially in the context of his sextet. The group features standout players on every instrument—horn players Graham Haynes, Steve Lehman, and Mark Shim alongside bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Jeremy Dutton. I expect fireworks as well as sublime musical expression from these musicians.

Both shows start at 7:30 PM. Tickets are available here.

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