Virtuoso pianist Vijay Iyer, Grammy-winner Arooj Aftab and multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily are three U.S. based South Asian artists forging a singular voice that draws upon their musical backgrounds to create a lush and haunting soundscape of meditation and yearning. Rolling Stone calls their just-released album “like nothing else out there.”
After their 2018 debut show in their adopted hometown of New York City, Ismaily asked Iyer and Aftab to huddle together and reflect on what had just occurred. “We felt it from the first moment,” remembers Iyer. “We were mystified and almost silent and said: I don’t know what just happened. But we should do that again.” They hadn’t prepared material in advance; the potent chemistry surprised even these seasoned collaborators. A shared focus on collective real-time creation allowed them to weave the bass, piano, and vocals into a breathtakingly unified sound. This was music in the moment. Words couldn’t define it, but the audience felt it, and joined the emotional journey. Staying open to spontaneous co-creation became the band’s defining approach in the half-dozen shows they played before recording their debut album.
Individually, their accolades are substantial – vocalist Arooj Aftab, the first Pakistani to win a Grammy, wows audiences worldwide with her mesmerizing live shows; MacArthur genius and Grammy nominee Vijay Iyer is one of today’s most influential pianists; multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily’s sensitivity and technical acumen have made him a legend among musicians like the late Lou Reed for whom he was a session player. Yet the marvel here is how ego disappears as the three players merge to create a singular, gorgeous sound.
Love In Exile. Three world-class musicians meet in New York City to forge a singular voice that takes their distinct backgrounds and vast histories of collaboration as a starting point. From there they explore one-of-a-kind performances defined by a sense of timeless beauty and sudden surprise alike. Their new album “Love in Exile” was released in March 2023.