Concert Brings out Strayhorn's 'Genius at Work'

Article excerpt

Saxophonist Don Braden says his shared album, "The Strayhorn Project," has an existence many musical projects fail to achieve.

"Unlike a lot of good ideas, this one came to life," he says.

Braden and trumpeter Mark Rapp will bring their look at the music of the Pittsburgh jazz legend Billy Strayhorn to the North Side on Friday. The concert also will feature the Pittsburgh debut of pianist Vijay Iyer, who will perform his original music in a trio setting.

The show will take jazz two fairly different directions: one based on compositions and one based in trio cohesion and interplay.

"The music is made through the collaboration of the band," Iyer says. "It is harmonizing with all of the people present."

He will be joined by bassist Marcus Gilmore and bassist Stephen Crump.

Iyer's strength as a creator and composer is what has lifted him to be one of most striking pianists in jazz at this point. He can play solo works in the manner of Keith Jarrett, but is a skilled ensemble player whose work as a leader is like Chick Corea's.

Music is not his only intellectual achievement, though. He grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and has a bachelor's in math and physics from Yale College, a master's in physics and a doctorate in technology and the arts from the University of California. He also teaches at the Manhattan School of Music, New York University and The New School. …