Article Contributed by Motormouthmedia | Published on Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Renowned musicians Vijay Iyer, Shahzad Ismaily, and Arooj Aftab, formally known as Love In Exile, set off on their headlining US tour next month, starting with a show at The Town Hall on September 14th. A trio born out of a fateful live performance in 2018 between the three famed performers, their formal debut as Love In Exile is a momentous occasion not to be missed.

This album proved a fan favorite of the likes of Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NPR and your very own New York Times. Off the heels of an international tour and a stunning NPR Tiny Desk appearance, the trio has brought their show to jazz festivals like Big Ears Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, and the Newport Jazz Festival. Expertly exalting the transcendent music and sounds of the Middle East, the trio’s deeply resonant work makes for a captivating show that is not one to miss.

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.

Stream the complete collection of visualizers HERE

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)
Sep 14 — New York, NY — The Town Hall
Sep 19 — San Diego, CA — Epstein Family Amphitheatre
Sep 20 — Los Angeles, CA — The Ford
Sep 21 — San Francisco, CA — Great American Music Hall
Sept. 22 — Beaverton, OR — Patricia Reser Center for the Arts
Sept. 24 — Seattle, WA — Neptune Theatre
Sep 28 — Tempe, AZ — Tempe Center for the Arts
Sept 29 — Austin, TX — Bass Concert Hall
Sept 30 — Denver, CO — Newton Center for the Performing Arts
Oct 4 — Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art
Oct 5 — Princeton, NJ – McCarter Theatre Center
Oct 7 — Blacksburg, VA — Moss Arts Center
Oct 8 — Boston, MA — Institute of Contemporary Art
Oct 10 — Minneapolis, MN — The Cedar
Oct 11 — Chicago, IL — Harris Theater for Music and Dance
Oct 12 — Iowa City, IA — Infinite Dream Festival
Oct 17 — Athens, GA — University of GA

*Additional trio performances through October 2023 to be announced*

About Love In Exile:

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 and composer 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 Yoko Ono, 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.