Iyer, Vijay & Mike Ladd – “Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project” – [Pi Recordings]
A thought-provoking multimedia project, originally commissioned by Harlem Stage and performed live in 2012. Noted jazz pianist Vijay Iyer composed all the music, which spans a wide range of styles from tensely atmospheric to jazzy to almost heavy rock. The spoken and sung lyrics examine the thoughts and feelings and dreams of veterans of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans of color, that is. Lyrics and vocals are by underground hip hop artist Mike Ladd, a poet named Maurice who served with the Marines, and an Air Force sergeant named Lynn who was responsible for remotely piloting Predator drone bombers. We get a real sense of the awful realities of war and its aftermath through their eyes. A phenomenal effort by Iyer and Ladd, who have been collaborating on various projects for a while. Performance artist/vocalist/composer Pamela Z. also makes some contributions here.