Resonant Bodies

S2021 E8 | FULL EPISODE

Arooj Aftab

Following their success at Joe’s Pub and The Kitchen, the talented trio of Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily expand their work into an improvised musical journey that blends jazz, indie rock, and Sufi minimalism.

AIRED: July 28, 2021 | 0:40:30
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TRANSCRIPT

[ Vocalizing ]

[ Distorted vocalization ]

[ Voice auto-tuned ] ♪ It's very hard

Woman: The voice is such a unique instrument.

It is located in this place in your body,

where you have your heart below it,

you have your brain above it.

[ Piano playing, man vocalizing ]

Only the sound of the voice, I think,

can really go to those deep emotional places.

And when we hear that, there can be a greater compassion

and understanding and community around the world.

[ Vocalizing ]

♪♪

[ Vocalizing ]

The set tonight is going to be 30 minutes of kind of open,

sort of post-minimalist improv between me, Vijay, and Shahzad.

It is just kind of like a very open,

sort of formless kind of music.

Like, motifs repeat themselves.

And like, for instance, you know,

maybe, like, I'll start an idea and Shahzad will pick up on it

and build on it, and then Vijay will join.

And the three of us will just kind of, like,

stay in it for a while.

And then depending on how we feel --

or maybe one person feels ever so inclined to, like,

take it to the next level, and then, like, he will

and we'll -- and we'll join, you know,

so it's kind of like -- it's very organic.

We're really like -- We're very --

The three of us work well together

in sort of listening and following

and also innovating on the spot, so It's really fun for us

'cause we don't really plan a lot and just things happen,

and it's really nice.

There's certain themes.

There's, like -- I like to think about sort of departure,

a dreamscape kind of element.

Sort of playing with tension

and, like, sort of atonal chromaticisms,

sometimes, that sort of lead

into, like, a very beautiful, major sort of part and --

and they're so wonderful at listening

and sort of following the sort of things that I --

like, wherever I go.

And -- And likewise.

Like, if -- if they're doing something really out there,

I'm going, you know, so it's really fun.

I think that improv and sort of trusting each other

and, like, being good listeners and being good improvisers

exists in, like, all cultures of music.

So we're just playing with that.

I felt that the 30 minutes

offered to me from "Resonant Bodies"

was just, like, a really exciting opportunity to explore

and kind of solidify this trio

that we sort of began sort of very informally.

And I just, you know, really feel the freedom

to just experiment with voice in a more intentional way.

It's kind of like an opportunity to push the envelope a bit.

A voice can take you into the depths of yourself

and, like, make you realize

things that you haven't been thinking of.

You know, it's -- it can be layered in these wa--

It's so -- It's just -- It's -- It's like an ocean.

And it's when you are sort of exchanging energies

with the audience 'cause you're giving so much

and then you're also receiving a lot.

So it's quite a dual hang.

There are some moments in this trio that really feel crazy.

You know, it's just like tho--

and that happens very rarely,

I think, because a lot of the other bands

and the other projects that I do are very, like, rehearsed,

and, like, the music is written.

And so we're following each other's cues.

And so -- you know, so it's like there isn't

this element of surprise, like what could possibly happen

when we take this turn here or --

and so sometimes, you know,

it's like -- it's like watching a concert while you're on stage.

Sometimes, like, Shahzad will just start playing something

and I'll be like, "Damn."

Like, "What?" You know? [ Laughs ]

Or, like, Vijay's taking a really long solo,

and it's so beautiful.

He's just taking his time and he's telling a story

and he's become the voice, you know.

And then I have become the piano.

And so the "Resonant Bodies" -- like, the theme of it

is not just that the vocalist will explore the voice.

It's that the instrumentation itself --

like, we want to all become resonant bodies, too,

like, in the trio itself, so I would like to shape-shift

and I would like them to shape-shift.

And that's kind of how it goes. And that's really very exciting.

I really love playing with these guys in this setting.

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Vocalizing ]

♪ Mm

So, could I get some reverb, please? Like, a long tail?

[ Speaks indistinctly ]

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♪ Mm

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[ Audience member cheers ]

[ Arooj chuckles ]

♪♪

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[ Music stops ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Vocalizing ]

I'd just like to introduce these two incredible

human beings who are on stage with me today.

This is Vijay Iyer.

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Vocalizing ]

And Shahzad Ismaily.

[ Cheers and applause continue ]

[ Vocalizing ]

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♪♪

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[ Music stops ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

Thank you.

[ Vocalizing ]

[ Cheers and applause continue ]

[ Vocalizing ]

♪♪

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[ Vocalizing ]

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