Tag Archives: Persian music

Otherworldly Autumn Soundscapes

Kayhan Kalhor, Rembrandt Frerichs, Tony Overwater and Vinsent Planjer – It’s Still Autumn

Kayhan Kalhor, Rembrandt Frerichs, Tony Overwater and Vinsent Planjer – It’s Still Autumn (Kepera Records/Challenge Records International, 2019)

Somewhere in the throes of baking in the last of the summer heat thoughts of autumn arise. The lure of the pungency of dries leaves, that crystalline light that belongs to those first crisp mornings and the warm glow of that last blast before the dark of winter takes hold might just seem like property of experience or childhood memory, but what if you could capture autumn in music? What would be the soundtrack to autumn? Lucky for you I think I’ve got just the right soundtrack for you autumn listening.

The Challenge Records International release of It’s Still Autumn is the quintessential soundtrack for your autumn lolling and reflection. And, let me caution here that once you open yourself to this glorious collection of tracks it is all about the music so it’s best to sit, listen and take the ride.

Interestingly enough our autumn pleasure soundscape is the result of a collaboration between the Iranian kamanche player Kayhan Kalhor and the Dutch jazz group The Rembrandt Frerichs Trio. Music fans might know musician and composer Mr. Kalhor ‘s work with Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and recordings such as The Rain with Ghazal, The Wind and Hawniyaz. The equally impressive music pedigree of musician and composer Rembrandt Frerichs has recordings such as Ordem E Progesso Vol. 1 & 2, Levantasy with Yoram Lachish, Tony Overwater and Vinsent Planjer and The Contemporary to his credit. Musician and composer Tony Overwater’s discography includes Changes in Time, Ellington Suites with the Tony Overwater Trio with Calefax and Jungleboldie with the Tony Overwater Trio. Musician and composer Vinsent Planjer has appeared on Levantasy, Continental and A Long Story Short recordings.

With Mr. Kalhor on kamanche, Mr. Frerichs on fortepiano and harmonium, Mr. Overwater on violone and double bass and Mr. Planjer on his own crafted percussion setup called the whisper kit, It’s Still Autumn lays down a soundscape so finely crafted that if you were to close your eyes listening your mind’s eye would catch the swirl of dried leaves or the dawning light catching the dew. It’s Still Autumn is where everything is in its proper place, where curlicues of Iranian kamanche rise on the winds of fortepiano against the thrum of double bass and polished off by the tang of percussion or the tinkling of bells. It is neither wholly jazz or wholly world music – it’s the best combination it is that out-of-time, other-worldly soundscape fueled by its own goodness.

Divided into two sections of Dawn and Dusk, It’s Still Autumn is cleverly crafted where one track simply flows into another, so the opening “Dawn-Introduction” with fortepiano, violone and cascade of wind chime bells sets up the anticipation of the full light with kamanche before flowing neatly into “Dew Drops” which in turn leaps headlong into the spectacular that is the bright and joyful “Kayhan’s Chahar” with some pretty stunning double bass, fortepiano and kamanche goodness. And, that’s only three tracks in. There’s the serene sorrow of the kamanche on “Still” and the elegantly smooth “Offering.”

If the music hasn’t hooked you by this point seek professional help, but first you should check out the second section of It’s Still Autumn entitle Dusk. The eerie musical threads on the opening of Dusk’s “Introduction” snare the listener before the track slowly unfurls into a reflective mood awaiting the gloaming by way of achingly lovely kamanche lines before evolving into the melancholic mood of “Autumn” led by kamanche and laced by double bass and fortepiano. “Autumn Winds” is perhaps the most strongly jazz flavored and boasts some truly delicious double bass, fortepiano and percussion work as the track takes wild flight on the autumn winds. Closing track “Long Story Short” is simply masterful in its musicianship as it reaches out and snatches colored leaves from the wind and conjures up the very edges of light before it slips into the dark.

It’s Still Autumn is the mosaic of leaves under foot, that tang of wood smoke in the air and the golden moments of last warm light before winter. Yeah, it’s that good.

Buy It’s Still Autumn

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Mongolian and Persian Hybridization at Rainforest World Music Festival 2019

Sedaa – Photo by Angel Romero

Sedaa is a Germany-based quartet featuring three Mongolian musicians and one Iranian instrumentalist. Together they make a remarkable mix of Mongolian, Middle Eastern and global music influences. The ensemble performed on Sunday, July 14, 2019 at the Rainforest World Music Festivals’ Theatre Stage.

The four musicians delivered an exquisite set of pieces that included masterful instrumental performances along with mesmerizing throat singing.

Sedaa – Photo by Angel Romero

Sedaa’s discography Mongolian Meets Oriental (2009), Letter from Mongolia (2011), New Ways (2012) and East West (2018).

The lineup includes Naranbaatar Purevdorj on kargyraa (undertone singing), khuumii (overtone singing), ikh kuur (two-string double bass), and morin khuur (horse head fiddle); Nasanjargal Ganbold on throat singing, kargyraa, morin khuur, bishguur (Mongolian oboe) and dombra (two-string plucked instrument); Omid Bahadori on cajon, guitars, vocals, percussion, kargyraa, and frame drum; and Ganzorig Davaakhuu on yoochin (Mongolian hammered dulcimer).

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Artist Profiles: Kaveh Sarvarian

Kaveh Sarvarian

Musician and composer Kaveh Sarvarian was born in Tehran, Iran in 1976. He has a Master of Composition, University of Art of Tehran.

Throughout his long career, he has performed in different countries. In Iran he was a member of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra (transverse flute), Rastak Ensemble (folk wind instruments), Naima Persian Jazz Fusion (flute, ney, tombak).

He was a professor at the University of Art of Tehran, in the Department of Music and Composition. Kaveh moved to Madrid, Spain around 2010. He presently directs the Parsinava ensemble where he delves into jazz sonorities within traditional Persian music.

Kaveh co-directs Kereshmeh, along with dancer Patricia Álvarez. It is a groundbreaking project based on the compositions of his album titled Kereshmeh, where they explore folk languages incorporated into a contemporary scenic concept.

In addition to Parsinava ensemble and Kereshmeh, Kaveh also participates in various other music ensembles and projects: Darawish (Arabic-Mediterranean fusion music), The Silk Road, Capella de Ministrers and Carles Magraner, Eduardo Paniagua.

He also is the author of three instructive books, “The Comprehensive Method of Ney “, ” Persian Music Ornamentation for Ney” , and” Tombak Method “.

Kaveh lives in Madrid, Spain where he gives online Persian music lessons on Skype and works on his musical projects.

His recordings include Parisan (Quartets for Ney), Persian Rug (Flute duo and piano), Avareh (Jazz fusion), Ofogh, Sonido del oriente (Persian music on a trip to Spain) and Kereshmeh (new perspective of Persian music).

Discography:

Persian Rug, with Hamzeh Yeganeh (2014)
Parisan (2014)
Avareh, with Hamzeh Yeganeh (2014)
Moonlight Sky (2014)
Ofogh (2014)
Sonido del oriente (2015)
Kereshmeh – Nueva perspectiva de música persa (2019)

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Marvelous Persian Flute Fusion Works

Kaveh Sarvarian – Kereshmeh  – Nueva perspectiva de música persa (La Cupula Music, 2019)

Iranian multi-instrumentalist Kaveh Sarvarian has released a new album titled Kereshmeh, which is a type of ancient melody in classical Iranian music. Kereshmeh is also an exploration on the opportunities of composing and improvising in less known rhythms and a way of using percussion in a simpler form.

Kaveh Sarvarian – Kereshmeh  – Nueva perspectiva de música persa

Madrid-based Kaveh Sarvarian combines traditional Persian music, jazz fusion, Bakuchi and Armenian folk traditions and contemporary experimental music forms. He uses beautiful layers of various types of flutes, including the ney, accompanied by a wide range of percussion, subtle keyboards such as fascinating electric piano and organ and piano.

Adding different tracks and making a musical loop was something unfamiliar to me,” says Kaveh Sarvarian. “It is an idea that I have been experimenting and learning over the past few years. In Kereshmeh, I have tried to use this technique with the traditional and folkloric music of Iran.”

Buy the digital edition of Kereshmeh  – Nueva perspectiva de música persa from amazon or the CD from kavehsarvarian.bandcamp.com/album/kereshmeh

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Kronos Quartet to Release an Album with Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat

American chamber music ensemble Kronos Quartet has recorded an album titled Placeless (Kirkelig Kulturverksted) with Iranian artists Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat.

This recording is a milestone for us,” says Mahsa Vahdat. “The wonderful musicians in Kronos Quartet have given our music new dimensions. By performing poems from Persia’s classical era, we have been coming closer to finding an organic connection between what we express in our art and the way we live.”

Kronos’ artistic director, founder and violinist David Harrington adds “We’re always trying to learn as much as we can, and now, recording with Mahsa and Marjan, we sometimes are able to make sounds we have never before heard from our instruments.”

The release date is March 1, 2019.

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Artist Profiles: Mohammad Reza Lotfi

Mohammad Reza Lotfi

Mohammad Reza Lotfi was born in 1947 in Gorgan, northern Iran. Encouraged by his elder brother, he learned to play the tar and showed his talent by winning the first prize in Iran’s Young Musicians Festival in 1964. The following year, he started his studies at the National Conservatory in Tehran under Habibollah Salehi and Master Ali Akbar Shahnazi. While at the conservatory, he also studied western classical music and the violin which led to his collaboration with various orchestras under the direction of Hossein Dehlavi. Some of his other eminent teachers were Abdollah Davami, from whom he learned the Radif, and Master Hormozi, who taught him the setar.

While attending the College of Fine Arts at Tehran University, Lotfi became the student of Master Nour-Ali Boroumand. He also worked at the Center for the Preservation and Propagation of Traditional Iranian Music, both as a soloist and a conductor. His other accomplishments were teaching at the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Adolescents, researching folk music for National Radio and Television, and appearing at the Shiraz Arts Festival.

After graduating in 1973, Lotfi joined the faculty of Fine Arts at Tehran University. He continued his collaboration with Radio and Television and co-founded the Shayda Ensemble. Between 1978 and 1980, Lotfi became the Head of the School of Music at Tehran University. He served as the director of the Center for the Preservation and Propagation of Traditional Iranian Music and the Chavosh Conservatory. In 1984 Lotfi was invited by Fondazione Cini to participate in a seminar and perform concerts in Italy where he resided for two years. He has been living in the United States since 1986 and has performed widely throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. A prolific musician, he has made numerous recordings both as a solo artist and with major Iranian musicians such as Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Shahram Nazeri, Hossein Alizadeh, and Parviz Meshkatian.

Lotfi is one of the greatest contemporary masters of the tar and setar. He is among the major figures who, in the past twenty years, have revolutionized the Persian traditional (classical) music. His innovative approach of combining the classical with folk elements, both in terms of music and technique, has injected a new vitality into a very old tradition. His original creativity and the deep-rooted emotional quality of his playing have made him the father of a new aesthetics in Persian music.

Mohammad Reza Lotfi died on May 2, 2014 in Tehran, Iran.

Partial discography:

The Abu-Ata Concert (Kereshmeh Records, 1996)
Mystery Of Love (Kereshmeh Records, 1996)

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Tar Virtuosa Sahba Motallebi to Perform in Miami

Sahba Motallebi

Tar and sitar master Sahba Motallebi is set to perform Saturday, January 27th accompanied by Naghmeh Farahmand at North Beach Bandshell in Miami.

Sahba Motallebi is an award-winning Iranian musician. She began studying music as a young girl in Sari, northern Iran. Shortly after graduating from the Tehran Conservatory of Music, she co-founded a pioneering women’s music ensemble and later joined the Iranian National Orchestra, beginning her career as an international performer.

She left Iran in 2003 to pursue graduate studies, closed to her there because of her faith. Sahba is also recognized as an innovator in the teaching of Persian music, putting instructional materials on the internet and teaching students online.

8:00 p.m.
North Beach Bandshell
7275 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL, 33141

Tickets: www.seetickets.us

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Baraka’s Vision of Persian Women’s Songs

Baraka – Gole Sangam Persian Women’s Songs

 

Baraka – Gole Sangam Persian Women’s Songs (Sketis Music SKMR-128, 2016)

Latvian world jazz ensemble Baraka focuses on the ancient Persian ghazal tradition that spread throughout Central Asia (Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan). Three female vocalists appear on Gole Sangam: Tajik traditional singer Zarina Tadjibaeva, Baraka’s regular soloist Devika Evsikova and spoken word artist Iran Raihi, who recites verses written by contemporary Iranian poets.

Even though Baraka specializes in what they call ethno jazz, this project sounds like a smooth jazz ensemble backing the vocalists. The fusion could have worked better with less saxophone and some additional traditional instruments. Aside from the vocals and percussion, there is barely any Central Asian musical influence.

 

Baraka – Gole Sangam Persian Women’s Songs

 

Personnel: Zarina Tadjibaeva on lead vocals; Devika Evsikova on vocals, bass, Chapman stick, fretless bass, Rhodes piano; Iran Raihi on spoken word; Deniss Pashkevich on saxophone and flute; Artem Sarvi on Hammond organ, Rhodes and synthesizer; Egor Kovaikov on acoustic and electric guitar, sitar; Dmitry Evsikov on bongo, conga, darbuka, ghatam, clay pot, daff; Marcis Vasilevskis on electric guitar; Vilnis Kundrats on tenor saxophone; Artur Kupetov on electric guitar; Madars Kalniņš on Hammond organ and synthesizer; Zigmund Kukovsky on bass; Janis Amantov on trumpet.

 

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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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Qasida: Flamenco Meets Persian Music at Carnegie Hall

Qasida
Qasida

The show Qasida: Flamenco Meets Persian Music is set for Friday, March 18 at 8:30 p.m. at Zankel Hall.

Qasida combines musicians from Spain and Iran who represent and expand upon the ancient musical relationships from which flamenco is derived.

Led by two powerful vocalists, Rosario Guerrero “La Tremendita” (Sevilla, Spain) and Mohammad Motamedi (Iran), the group explores the roots of flamenco in the richly varied poetic songs and improvisations of Motamedi. Songs of Spanish folk poetry and Persian high art merge into a musical world in which the spirit of ancient ‘Al-Andalus’ is briefly revived.

Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Seventh Avenue between 57th and 56th Street, New York City.

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