Hard to keep up with my friend Chris who is soon off to India.
His latest interview on radioopensource is with the wonderful jazz musician and composer Vijay Iyer.
A few years ago, Avram and I went out to the Queens Museum of Art one weekend for an India-America Cultural festival when I happened to be in the City.
Now I knew this would be a lot more hip than the immigrant kind of thing I went to growing up as a kid — you know — the amateur music and dance by little kids in front of gushing parents that made you wince. No, this was at a MUSEUM in NEW YORK — and looking at the program listings of theater, multimedia art, and music one knew that it was going to be very contemporary.
Nevertheless, when we walked in to the concert by Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa… being the aging boomer exiled on the cultural island of Cape Cod (the mid cape, not P-town) …. I had no clue about Iyer. I really didn’t know a thing about him. I found out later that he had been voted Rising Jazz Star of the Year in Downbeat two years running.
And of course, after hearing him play, I walked out in a trance. I felt healed knowing that a deep tradition was being upheld and reinvented at the same time..
The next time I was in the City I caught the operatic piece he did in Brooklyn and once again was transported to a place I had forgotten existed. As a teenager I used to long for the kind of global culture of music and literature that has now emerged, though I didn’t have the wit or courage to create it at that time- After the show, Iyer was in the foyer and I went up to him and stammered something about how profound his work was, forgetting for that instant as I paid my homage that he is as old as a son of mine might be if my life had been only a little bit different. He just looked at me, perhaps a bit taken aback by the intensity of this greying guy, and said “thanks”.
So this long interview Chris does with Iyer is a real treat, a wonderful stew of American cultural history, jazz music, Indian diaspora, globalism, improvisational elan, riffs on issues of colour, and much more.
A remarkable dude talking to a remarkable dude.
Listen to this podcast now!