April 23, 2016
There’s no more exciting act in jazz right now than the duo of pianist Vijay Iyer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. Their new ECM recording, A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke, is already a highlight of this relatively new year—a spacious, tensile, brilliantly unfolding work of exploratory trust. It’s received accolades from sources as varied as The Guardian and Pitchfork. On April 23, they arrived in D.C. for the final stop on their debut national tour. The concert was a rare appearance from two of the most renowned musicians of our time.
Iyer has been a member of Smith’s storied Golden Quartet since 2008, and in the years since the two have developed a way of communicating in real time with depth and a mutual sense of vision. That much is clear on A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke.
The show was preceded by an opening set from Jamal Moore.
Vijay Iyer, a Harvard professor and MacArthur “genius” grantee, is currently the artist in residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new Breuer building, in New York City. With his trio, the self-taught pianist makes some of the most interleaved and adventurous, yet resoundingly accessible, music in jazz. In other projects, he’s united poetry, video art and activism with improvised music (in Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project), and has composed long-form pieces for string quartet, piano and electronics (on Mutations, another recent ECM release).
Wadado Leo Smith’s stout, resolute trumpet sound has trounced across jazz’s avant-garde landscape for the past 50 years. An early member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, he was on the front lines of the free jazz movement in the 1960s. Smith is equally accomplished as a composer and a trumpeter, and recently became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his suite Ten Freedom Summers, dedicated to the justice warriors of the mid-century Civil Rights Movement.
Jamal Moore is a saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist. Moore is the leader of Organix Trio, which brought down the house at our DC Jazz Loft Series at the DC Jazz Festival last year, during our evening of tribute to the AACM. He also happens to be one of Wadada Leo Smith’s students and proteges, from his time receiving a master’s degree at Cal Arts, where Smith teaches. He will perform a solo set at 8 p.m. to kick things into gear. Iyer and Smith participated in an interactive question-and-answer following their set.
This engagement of Vijay Iyer + Wadada Leo Smith is made possible through the DC Special Presenters Initiative program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
This program was also funded in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.