The trailblazing, Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer joins forces with an all-star ensemble of equally brilliant, inventive, and musically multilingual performer/composers Himanshu Suri (above, formerly of Das Racist), guitarist Rafiq Bhatia (Son Lux) and drummer/rapper Kassa Overall for a voyage across multiple musical landscapes, articulated by the individual brilliance of the four collaborators. Pakistani vocalist/composer Arooj Aftab will join Thums Up and also perform a set of her own songs with Leo Genovese, piano; Jorn Bielfeldt, drums; and Yusuke Yamamoto, synths.
Judd Greeenstein, Ecstatic Music Festival Curator
I’m honestly a little shocked that this is only the third time this project is coming together —a fact that is no doubt a product of the extremely busy creative lives of all four of Thums Up’s collaborators, but also the limited infrastructure for these kinds of projects in our musical landscape. Emily Krell (Merkin Concert Hall's Producer and Managing Director) and I approached Himanshu Suri about being on the festival, leaving it open as to what direction he took it. Himanshu is an incredibly powerful MC and a broadly engaged creative human being, so there were countless ways he could have fit onto the festival. In the end, though, neither of us could resist the urge to bring this group of musicians back together, and having the wonderful “neo-Sufi” musician Arooj Aftab join them adds a new dimension to the mix. Each of these five musicians is talented and multi-faceted enough to warrant their own Ecstatic collaboration; to have them all work together is an unbelievable treat, and being able to give projects like these another opportunity to come together is part of what makes the Ecstatic Music Festival so vital, in my mind. I should also say that it’s a special honor to have Vijay Iyer back on the festival; we commissioned a work from him for Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society back in the first year, and we’ve hoped to have him back ever since.