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Credit: Ebru Yildiz, Hi-Res HERE

Press materials HERE


24 FEBRUARY 2023 (TORONTO, ON) - Musicians Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, Shahzad Ismaily proudly announce a collaborative album, Love In Exile, out March 24th on Verve Records. To herald the announcement they share the lead single “To Remain / To Return,” which is accompanied by visualizers HERE.


“Our music is a process,” says Vijay Iyer. “This fragment of ‘To Remain / To Return’ reveals not just the melody but the birth of a song. I hear Shahzad and myself establishing these haunted cycles, then slowly and delicately transforming them, as Arooj glides across like a dark moon.”


“This piece holds, at its core, the delicately unfolding emotion of separation anxiety induced fury (see: love, self exile) between two people who are deeply connected,” Arooj Aftab explains further. “One is leaving and the other is asking them to stay. The former is saying ‘I will leave but I will also return’; in better form for the both of us.”


"We all provide the best we can,” adds Shahzad Ismaily. “In my case it's euclidean rhythms, crystals to hold the oceanic beauty of Vijay's keys and the silent raven of Arooj's voice. We grow to the company that we keep; I am both fortunate and grateful."


Stream “To Remain/To Return” Visualizers HERE


Love In Exile asks you to step inside its sense of time, to stretch out alongside these delightful and unhurriedly unfolding songs. Profound impact is achieved with minimal instrumentation: Vijay Iyer on pianos and electronics, Shahzad Ismaily on bass and Moog synth, and Arooj Aftab’s exquisite Urdu vocals. Subtle musical interrelationships build into moments of deeply felt drama. Shimmering keyboard melodies and stirring vocals, earthy basslines, and hypnotic drones: together they create an album of stunning gravitas and beauty. Love In Exile was recorded live in a New York City studio with minimal editing, and each listen reveals distinct aspects of this soundworld, sure as it will activate new feelings inside you.


Genre categories come after the fact. This album is startlingly present and emotionally open. Many listeners will find it easier to remember how each song made them feel and what each song did to their sense of attention rather than specific melodies. This is music as a meeting ground and a way of being alive to the world. All the intimacies and deep trust that we understand by the word love combine with all the strangeness and adaptability of exile. The outsiders stay open.

“This project is so dear to me,” says Iyer. “Making music with Arooj and Shahzad is nothing less than an out-of-body experience. Even though I’m right there in it, I find myself witnessing the music as if from above. I’m weirdly in awe of our unhurried, mysterious creations; they seem to arrive fully formed from somewhere else. I can’t wait for everyone to hear, feel, and live with this record. “


The trio’s work is graceful in the common sense: elegance and emotion accompany each movement here. Yet it also manifests the deeper, spiritual sense of grace: a beauty that is generous, free, and unexpected, tapped into a higher power, which it translates and extends.


By creating in real time, without any prior preparations, the three musicians make a collective moment for both themselves and the audience. Remembering their first show, Aftab says, “Vijay and Shahzad were so locked into each other, and it was unclear whether they were doing what I was doing or I was doing what they were doing. We were like a school of fish.” Sunlight dappled through deep water, fluid motions that dissolve individual boundaries and amplify communal energy. Ismaily calls it “a relaxing toward what is.” Love In Exile is the power of music, how it moves us and invites us to love.


(Trio performing Love in Exile)
Mar 31 — Knoxville, TN — Big Ears Music Festival
Apr 14 — North Bethesda, MD — Strathmore — The Music Center
Apr 28 — Burlington, VT — UVM Recital Hall
May 7 — Krems an der Donau, AT — Donau Festival, Minoritenkirche
May 9 — Brussels, BE — Les Nuits Botanique Festival, Notre Dame Church
May 11 — Luxembourg, LU — Neimënster
May 13 — Berlin, DE — XJAZZ! Festival, Emmauskirche
May 25 — Hamburg, DE — Elbphilharmonie
May 29 — Zurich, CH — Moods
May 30 — Utrecht, NL — Tivoli Vredenburg
June 2 — London, UK — Barbican Centre
Jun 26 — Vancouver, BC — Vancouver Jazz Festival
Jun 28 — Ottawa, ON — Ottawa Jazz Festival
Jun 29 — Montreal, PQ — Montreal Jazz Festival
July 27 — North Adams, MA — Bang on a Can’s: LOUD WEEKEND 2023 at Mass MoCA
Jul 29 — Katonah, NY — Caramoor Center for the Arts
Sep 14 — New York, NY — Venue TBA
Sep 19 — San Diego, CA — Epstein Family Amphitheatre
Sep 20 — Los Angeles, CA — Venue TBA
Sep 21 — San Francisco, CA — Great American Music Hall
Sep 28 — Tempe, AZ — Tempe Center for the Arts
Sept 29 — Austin, TX — Venue TBA
Sept 30 — Denver, CO — Venue TBA
Oct 4 — Cleveland, OH — Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art
Oct 5 — Princeton, NJ – Venue TBA
Oct 7 — Blacksburg, VA — Venue TBA
Oct 8 — Boston, MA — Institute of Contemporary Art
Oct 10 — Minneapolis, MN — The Cedar
Oct 11 — Chicago, IL — Venue TBA
Oct 12 — Iowa City, IA — Infinite Dream Festival


*Additional trio performances through October 2023 to be announced*


About the Trio
Backstage after their 2018 debut show in their adopted hometown of New York City, Shahzad Ismaily asked Arooj Aftab and Vijay Iyer to huddle together and reflect on what had just occurred. “We felt it from the first moment,” remembers Iyer. “We were mystified and almost silent and said: I don’t know what just happened. But we should do that again.” They hadn’t prepared material in advance; the potent chemistry surprised even these seasoned collaborators. A shared focus on collective real-time creation allowed them to weave the bass, piano, and vocals into a breathtakingly unified sound. This was music in the moment. Words couldn’t define it, but the audience felt it, and joined the emotional journey. Staying open to spontaneous co-creation became the band’s defining approach in the half dozen shows they played before recording their debut album.


Individually, their accolades are substantial – vocalist Arooj Aftab, winner of the 2021 Grammy Award for Best Global Music Performance, wows audiences worldwide with her mesmerizing live shows; MacArthur genius and Grammy nominee Vijay Iyer is one of today’s most influential pianists; multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily’s sensitivity and technical acumen has made him a legend among musicians like the late Lou Reed for whom he was a session player. Yet the marvel here is how ego disappears as the three players merge to create a singular, gorgeous sound.

Preorder/save Love in Exile HERE


Credit: Curry Hackett, Hi-Res HERE

Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, Shahzad Ismaily / Love in Exile (Verve)


CD Tracklist

  1. To Remain/To Return (9:19)
  2. Haseen Thi (12:09)
  3. Shadow Forces (14:11)
  4. Sajni (8:15)
  5. Eyes of the Endless (14:50)
  6. Sharabi (13:42)


Vinyl tracklist:

Disc 1, Side A

  1. To Remain/To Return (9:19)
  2. Haseen Thi (12:09)

Disc 1, Side B

  1. Shadow Forces (14:11)
  2. Sajni (8:15)

Disc 2, Side A

  1. Eyes of the Endless (14:50)

Disc 2, Side B

  1. Sharabi (13:42)


Digital tracklist:

  1. To Remain/To Return (9:19)
  2. Haseen Thi (12:09)
  3. Shadow Forces (14:11)
  4. Sajni (8:15)
  5. Eyes of the Endless (14:50)
  6. Sharabi (13:42)
  7. To Remain/To Return (Excerpt) (3:19)