This will have to remain a puzzle for now, because the most remarkable thing about Reimagining is its nine originals for trio or quartet--so strong in conception and performance it seems only a matter of time before the same sort of consensus Jason Moran inspired a few years ago begins to form around Iyer, who was born in Rochester, New York, in 1971, the son of upper-middle-class Indian immigrants (father a retired research chemist, mother a manager for Xerox).
So they don't have editors at the Voice? Not only is this a textbook run-on sentence, the individual parts of the sentence are pretty badly constructed. And do we really need a parenthetical telling us what Iyer's parents do for a living?
The reviewer saves the review with a quip at the end about "identity jazz":
A giveaway should have been the unusual number of Indian people who turned out, even if few of them wore kurtas or saris. My only argument with what I'm tempted to call identity jazz is the mistaken belief of some promoters that the way to lure more people to jazz is to convince audiences that it's about them. The Polish-speaking immigrants I see at Tomasz Stanko are no more likely to show up for David S. Ware than the lesbian reconstructionist rabbi I recognized at a performance of Stephen Bernstein's Diaspora Blues--and African American musicians are suddenly the ones left out in the cold. For all of that, the music itself can be pretty heady stuff, especially when driven by an honest desire to come to terms with a forgotten or long-taken-for-granted cultural heritage. In the Dakshina Ensemble, the two saxophonists found a common tongue in B-flat. That's a natural setting for the bluesy, speech-inflected Mahanthappa. But it's also Gopalnath's sruti, or favored key.
It's still a little muddled, and more than a little name-droppy (Voice writers can't seem to help themselves on this). But you get the idea.
Not that the idea makes any sense, of course. Arguably, African-American jazz has always been "identity jazz," only caucasian audiences have found ways to overlook it. What's new here is, it's a different "identity."
[I did an earlier post on Vijay Iyer here]