Vijay Iyer & Mike Ladd: Holding it Down: The Veterans Dreams Project

Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 00:00


Holding it Down

Vijay Iyer & Mike Ladd

Pi Recordings


The combination of spoken word and jazz is rare, except as movie shorthand for pretentiousness, so pianist Vijay Iyer’s ongoing collaboration with MC and poet Mike Ladd is brave in more ways than one. The pair’s previous releases have engaged with challenging cultural and racial issues in US society, but their latest project goes further, using as its source material the dreams of “veterans of colour”, as they describe the trauma of having travelled to Iraq and Afghanistan to kill for the United States. The unflinching testimonies of the veterans, in some cases appearing in person, raise burning questions about race, class and violence, but it takes a musician as complex and thoughtful as Iyer to make the results musically as well as politically red hot.