Vijay Iyer, one of the most innovative and original pianists in jazz, plays with his trio at Cornish College on Saturday, May 9.

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Vijay Iyer, whose trio was slated to perform at Cornish College back in February but had to reschedule for this Saturday, May 9, is one of the most innovative and original pianists in jazz. Iyer is a keenly intellectual observer of not just the music scene but the world at large, and his probing projects were initially inspired by melding the rhythms and scales of the Indian subcontinent with jazz improvisation. But he has since explored the psychological state of permanent war (“Holding It Down: Veterans’ Dreams Project”) and, most recently, the interstices between hip-hop and jazz (“Break Stuff”).

Iyer’s trio — with Marcus Gilmore (center, drums) and Stephan Crump (left, bass) — presented a spellbinding set at the Portland Jazz Festival this year, applying a deft use of sonic space and an interactive, orchestral approach to the trio setting that Iyer credits to the influence of Ahmad Jamal. Whether probing the interruptive architecture of Thelonious Monk’s “Work” or caressing the melody of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature,” the threesome performs alertly in the moment.

8 p.m. Saturday, May 9, at Poncho Concert Hall, Cornish College of the Arts, 710 E. Roy St., Seattle; $15-$25 (206-726-5151 or