Tag Archives: Iranian music

Artist Profiles: Niyaz

Niyaz – Photo by Olaf Heine

Vas vocalist Azam Ali; Axiom of Choice’s multi-instrumentalist Loga Ramin Torkian; and producer/remixer Carmen Rizzo joined forces to create a globe-spanning sound that the trio calls “folk music for the 21st century.” Known collectively as Niyaz, the trio represents the best of both traditional world music and electronic music.

With an ethereal beguiling sound that evokes centuries of women’s voices from medieval Europe to the modern Middle East , Azam Ali was half of the best-selling duo Vas (with percussionist Greg Ellis). Her singing has been heard in several major motion pictures including The Matrix: Revolutions and on many television programs such as Alias and The Agency.

Loga Ramin Torkian, whose band Axiom of Choice won much critical acclaim is deeply involved with the music of his homeland Iran. He is accomplished on the guitar the Turkish saz and electric guitarviol (a 14th century European bowed guitar) a traditional Persian lute as well as other Turkish and Kurdish instruments. Loga also uses the Persian classical repertoire known as the radif within his own compositions.

Carmen Rizzo has collaborated with a diverse range of artists including Seal, Alanis Morisette, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Khaled, Ekova and Cirque du Soleil as well as Paul Oakenfold, BT Esthero, Jem Alpha, Tiesto and Grant Lee Phillips.

For these three artists Niyaz represents a real departure from their usual avenues of artistic expression. Their first joint album weaves together ten beautiful mystical poems written by some of the greatest Sufi poets of all time with music accessible to a contemporary audience. Azam who was born in Iran but largely raised in India, sings in both Farsi (the Persian language) as well as in Urdu a language widely spoken in India and in Pakistan.

The music too represents cultural combinations of the highest order crossing back and forth over centuries of musical expression to combine ancient instruments rhythms and tonalities with brand new sounds. Mingling the textures of traditional acoustic music with new electronica Niyaz represents a finely-tuned balance that ushers in a new era of artistic possibilities for Iranian music.
Niyaz’s second CD, titled Nine Heavens came out in 2008. Nine Heavens was released as a double CD (featuring one disc of electronic and one disc of acoustic versions of the tracks).

Continuing to bridge the gap between traditional and modern world music Niyaz follows up 2005’s critically acclaimed and highly successful self-debut album with another recording of traditional sounds balanced tastefully with modern electronics.

Nine Heavens reveals a much more complex body of work featuring nine intricately carved original arrangements and compositions of traditional folk songs and mystical Sufi poems from Iran the Indian sub-continent and Turkey. With a strong emphasis on composition Niyaz centers on the deep interconnectedness between the music of Iran India and Turkey and delves further into the traditional melodies of these regions with outstanding performances by its core members as well as guest musicians of the highest caliber from these three traditions.

The lyrical framework for Nine Heavens once again features beautiful Persian and Urdu mystical poems by some of the greatest Sufi poets two original interpretations of traditional folk songs from Khorassan Iran and one soulful folk song from Maras Turkey. For the Iranian portion of the album Niyaz shift their focus from the beloved Sufi poet Rumi onto another great Iranian 13th century mystic/poet/musician Amir Khosrau Dehlavi who was born and raised in India and went on to become an iconic figure in the cultural history of the Indian sub-continent where he is revered to this day by thousands. ForNiyaz Dehlavi?s work embodies the very spirit of their music which focuses on the timeless exchange between these two cultures. For the Urdu portion of the album Niyaz features Ghazals and Rubaiyats by renowned 18th century Sufi poets Khwaja Mir Dard and Hali.

Their 2012 album Sumud expands on the theme of the music and identity of Iranians living in exile while adding their new experiences and worldviews learned during their heavy touring through the Middle East in the past seven years. “We have now travelled across the world and those experiences have affected the journey that we are on and the direction we’ve taken on this album,” Ali said from her new home in Montreal. “We’ve performed in the Kurdish parts of Turkey during times of major conflicts as well as other parts of the Middle East. Obviously that has affected this project. We wanted to focus on the ethnic and religious minority groups in these regions because they have really struggled to maintain their identity. It started from us wanting to tell our story and it has evolved into this humanitarian social message embracing regions around Iran.”

 

 

In 2013, Carmen Rizzo left the group.

Discography

Niyaz (Six Degrees, 2005)
Nine Heavens (Six Degrees, 2008)
Sumud (Six Degrees, 2012)
The Fourth Light (Six Degrees, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Siamak Jahangiry

Siamak Jahangiry

Siamak Jahangiry was born in 1971 in chaloos, in northern Iran. He started playing the ney at the age of 12. Jahangiry studied with Abdolnaghi Afsharnia before going on to study with Iran’s leading ney players, mostly with Mohammad Ali Kiani Nejad.

He received his degree in music from Tehran University of the Arts and has written a book on the ney, its playing techniques in the 20th century, and its masters.

Jahangiry is a member of the Abd-al-kadir Ensemble, a group dedicated to the compositions of Abd-al-kadir Maraghi—one of the most important Iranian music theorists and composers of the 14th century.

Siamak Jahangiry is also a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and appears on the ensemble’s albums Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet and New Impossibilities, as well as recordings with his own ensemble. “//When you travel and play for people outside your country, they usually want to learn more about your culture and where you come from//,” says Jahangiry. “//This is an important aspect of what we do with this project. We gain knowledge about each other and share knowledge about ourselves//.”

He is currently a professor of music in the Fine Arts school of Tehran University.

Discography

* Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet
* New Impossibilities
* Misty Solitude (2007)
* Tanha (Alone)
* Taranomi Baraye Sobh (2014)

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Artist Profiles: Shams Ensemble

Shams Ensemble

Iran’s renowned Shams Ensemble, influenced by Sufi, Kurdish and Persian classical music traditions, performs powerful rhythms and haunting melodic works incorporating the poetry of Mevlana (Rumi). Founded in 1980 by musician and composer Kaykhosro Pournazeri, Shams was the first group to compose music specifically for the ancient Kurdish tanbur lute.

The award-winning Shams Ensemble has performed over hundreds of concerts in Iran and around the world and recorded many best-selling albums. In 2007, Shams Ensemble performed with whirling dervishes from Konya, Turkey for four sold-out nights in Tehran’s renowned Royal Palace, Saadabad; these performances marked the first Sufi concerts performed in Iran and attracted national and international attention.

Discography:

Nishteman (2012)
Mastan (2012)
Hidden in Heart (2012)
the Land of Love (2013)
Sewi Sour (2013)
the Land of Sun (2013)
Raindrops (2015)

shamss.org/shamss/

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Artist Profiles: Shahab Paranj

Shahab Paranj, born in Tehran, Iran in 1983, started playing the tombak as a child, encouraged by his father who was a santur player. He played tombak at an arts and music secondary school, and later at the College of Music in Tehran. He studied tombak with Homayoun Shajarian, Kambiz Ganjei and Ardeshir Kamkar, and also studied cello with Majid Ismaili and Karim Qorbani.

In 2001 he began performing with the Khorshid Ensemble, directed by Tahmoures Pournazeri, and later joined the Shams Ensemble. He also plays with the Symphonic Orchestra of Iranian Television and produces music for commercials. Shahab studied composition at San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

He currently lives in New York City.

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Artist Profiles: Salar Aghili

Salar Aghili

Salar Aghili is one of the leading Persian classical vocalists of his generation. He was born in Tehran in 1977, has studied under the guidance of Sediq Taarif and combined training in the vocal repertoire of the old tradition with the delicate contemporary style of master Mohammad Reza Shajarian.

As a young and distinguished vocalist, he gained attention internationally through his collaboration with musicians, composers and ensembles including the Tehran Symphonic Orchestra, the Iran National Orchestra and the Dastan Ensemble.

His extensive credits include prestigious music festivals throughout the world, and acclaimed recordings.

Discography:

Endless Ocean, with Dastan Ensemble (Network, 2008)
In the Name of the Red Rose: Iranian Classical Music, with Dastan Ensemble (Celestial Harmonies, 2010)
Whisperings, with Mezrab Ensemble and Hamid Motebassem (Celestial Harmonies, 2014)

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Artist Profiles: Pezhham Akhavass

Pezhham Akhavass

Tombak and daf master Pezhham Akhavass has a unique approach to rhythm has gained him recognition as one of the most distinguished Iranian percussionists of his generation.

Born in 1980, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music from Tehran’s Sureh University. He began learning music theory under the instruction of Naser Nazar at the age of five.

With the support of his father, be began studying the tombak under the guidance of Naser Farhanghfar. He also met members of the Masters in Persian Music, including Hossein Alizadeh and Kayhan Kalhor, and performed with them both locally and on tour in Iran and Europe.

He has collaborated with Irish harp player Diana Rowan and world music sensation Mamak Khadem.

Currently, Pezhham lives in San Francisco, California where he teaches private classes in tombak, daf and setar.

Discography:

The Sky At Dawn, with Diana Rowan
Shahram Nazeri (Quartertone Productions, 2007)
Tombak (2008)
Percussions (2008)
The Passion of Rumi, with
Liberated [Raha], with Payam Jahanman
Song-of-Sparrows [Avaze Gonjeshkha], with Hossein Alizadeh
Breeze and wheat field [Nasim o Gandomzar], with Aliakbar Moradi
The Road, with Mamak Khadem (Innova, 2015)

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Niyaz featuring Azam Ali at ‘A World In Trance’ Music Series

Niyaz

One of the finest acts in the world music scene, Niyaz featuring Azam Ali will perform its 21st Century Global Trance Music on Saturday, April 29 at 8:00 pm at Roulette in New York City.

Niyaz combines Sufi poetry and folk songs from its native Iran and surrounding countries with rich acoustic instrumentation and modern electronics. Formed in California in 2004 and currently based in Montreal, Niyaz’s sound bridges the gap between East and West.

The group was founded by the mesmerizing vocalist andcomposer Azam Ali, whose Iranian heritage and Indian upbringing have deeply influenced her music, and multi-instrumentalist and composer Loga Ramin Torkian (oud & kamaan lutes). They will be joined by Didem Basar (kanun), Gabriel Ethier (keyboards, programming), Vaneet Vyas (tabla), and whirling dervish dancer Miriam Peretz.

Niyaz recently released The Best of Niyaz.

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Artist Profiles: Pedram Khavar Zamini

Pedram Khavar Zamini

Pedram Khavar Zamini, one of the world’s leading Iranian tombak players, has been living in France for few years now. Tombak is the main percussion instrument in classical Persian music, and Pedram is considered to be one of the most innovative players.

He started to learn playing the tombak alongside masters Kamyar Mohabbat and Bahman Rajabi. Pedram was a talented student.

Pedram founded his own tombak percussion group, named “Varashan”. He released his debut album “Koutah”, featuring compositions by Pedram for tombak, with Hamid Ghambary, which was produced in Iran and Europe.

Because of his rhythmical knowledge and his technique, he collaborated with important classical Persian musicians such as Sharam Nazeri, Dariush Talai, Kayhan Kalhor and Ali Akbar Moradi.

From 2002 to 2004, he toured the United States with Kayhan Kalhor’s Ensemble, organized by the World Music Institute, and in Germany with George Petrov and Ross Daly for the “Bowed Instrument Festival”.

After meeting with Ross Daly in Germany, Pedram decided to leave Iran and join Ross in Greece. He recorded “Iris” with and under the direction of Ross Daly, which was a meeting point of Pedram with some very popular artists from India and Iran: Dhruba Ghosh, Partha Sarathi Mukherjee, Hamid Khabazi, along with the Greek virtuosos Vasilis Rakopoulos, Kelli Thoma, Giorgis Xylouris.

Pedram also became a member of the Labyrinth group, led by Ross Daly. Always eager to explore in different musical worlds, Pedram, so far, has met and played with numerous gifted musicians for all around the globe such as Habil Aliev, Mohamad Rahim Khushnawaz, Dariush Talai, Sharam Nazeri, Djamchid Chemirani, Ballake Sissoko, Zohar Fresco, Kelly Thoma, Ellika Frisell, Dhruba Gosh, Khaled, Hossein Arman, Giorgos Xylouris, Siamak Aghaie, Stelios Petrakis, Vassilis Stavrakakis, etc. He has also recorded CDs with celebrated musicians such as Habil Aliev and Mohamad Rahim Khushnawaz.

Since 2005, he has developed his career as a soloist. In 2008, he recorded a CD with Siwan Project (Jon Balke, Amina Alaoui, Jon Hassell) on the the ECM label. As a result of this project, Jon Hassell invited Pedram to play with his band Marifa’s street for some concerts in Norway.

Pedram Khavar Zamini

Pedram created the Abi Trio (Blue Trio) with Siamak Aghaie (santur) and Hamid Ghanbary (percussion), using the traditional Persian repertoire but giving a bigger role to percussion.

His dazzling tombak technique, coupled with his Persian, Indian, Turkish, and Jazz musical influences have given him the privilege of being a unique tombak player.

Pedram knows how to mix the traditional Iranian foundation with his own modern patterns. Through this alchemy, he creates new sounds. He has an extremely developed sense of improvisation.

One of the foremost exponents of the younger generation is definitely Pedram khavarzamini who studied for many years with the great Master Bahman Rajabi,” said Ross Daly. “Pedram, apart from having worked extensively with major Iranian artists as both a soloist and accompanist, has also done a lot of groundbreaking work with ensembles of exclusively percussion instruments. The percussion group Koutah which he founded is without doubt at the forefront of what is in fact a new development in Iranian music which promises to open up many new avenues of expression in an already rich tradition.”

Discography

* Dar gozar, with Reza Fayaz (Kargah-e-mouseghi, 1998)
* Koutah (Avay-e-doost, 1999)
* Soor-va-soog, with Jahan Giri (Khane Honar, 2000)
* Dar khane aftab, with Reza Fayaz (Hozey-e-honari, 2001)
* Iris, with Ross Daly (Protasis, 2003)
* Zikr, with Kjetil Selvik (Etnisk Musikklubb, 2004)
* Ston Anamniseon Tin Exoria, with Mitsos Stavrakakis (Seistron Music, 2005)
* Ey ke Deldari, with Mohsen Keramati (Beethoven, 2006)
* Koutah (Seistron Music, 2006)
* Siwan (ECM, 2008)

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Artist Profiles: Keyvan Saket

Keyvan Saket

Keyvan Saket is an Iranian composer and tar and setar instrumentalist. Keyvan is a master of traditional Persian music who, after recording and touring extensively throughout Iran and abroad with traditional ensembles, began experimenting with creative arrangements of well-known Western classical music using the tar and setar.

Saket was born in 1960 in Mashad, Iran. He learned tar from his uncle, Manoucher Zamanian. In 1989, Saket joined the Aref Ensemble under the leadership of Parviz Meshkatian.

In addition to his work with Aref Ensemble, Keyvan Saket created the Vaziri Orchestra.

Discography:

Shabi Ba Khorshid
Yadgare Khone Sarv
Jamedaran (2009)
Sabokbal
Sashti Avaz Learn
Afsaneh
Didare Shargh Va Gharb
Ghasedak
Shargh Andoh
Bi Karvane Koli
An Soye Abo Gel
Zendegi

Web site: http://www.keivansaket.com

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