Vijay Iyer: ‘We’re all improvisers and we’re all creative people making choices every step of the way.’
Vijay Iyer is not only of the most interesting pianists and composers at work in modern music; he’s also one of its most contemplative and compelling, a Harvard professor of music who can talk hip-hop and funk and politics in one uninterrupted stream. In this interview with The List, he discusses his diverse influences, from James Brown to the Carnatic tradition, and the kinds of musicians who make the most powerful collaborators. “It’s like some kind of collective action, in the political sense of people putting their bodies on the line together,” he says of his ensembles. Iyer joins fellow piano innovator Craig Taborn for a rare duo set at Big Ears 2019.