Masters of Persian Music Faryad
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Masters of Persian Music
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cd cover The sounds heard on this 2-cd set are ample evidence of how well these fellows live up to their name. They are certainly masters of Persian music, but in equal measure they are humble servants of it as well. In contemporary Iran, classical musicians must first master roughly 200 gushehs (short pieces) and a dozen dastaghs (modal systems) before they can presume to do the sort of improvisational mixing and matching that results in any number of unique compositions. That blend of structure and improvisation is the backbone of Faryad, along with lyrics based upon verses set down by some of Persia's greatest 13th and 14th century mystical poets. The instrumental combination of kamancheh (vertical fiddle played by Kayhan Kalhor, also renowned for his work with Ghazal and the Silk Road Ensemble), tar (long-necked lute plucked with delicate virtuosity by Hossein Alizadeh) and tombak drum (played by Homayoun Shajarian, who sounds like he's got far more than ten fingers) creates textures that go seamlessly from complimentary to contrasting and back again. And when Mohammad Reza Shajarian's warmly longing lead vocals drift in, sometimes in tandem with son Homayoun, the aural landscape becomes even more beautiful. The two discs were recorded live - which I didn't realize until the somewhat jarring burst of applause at the end of disc one - with no lapses in attuned intricacy or graceful interplay. If you're seeking music that moves, grooves or jams with any sort of "world beat" intensity, this isn't it. But if deeply pure listening pleasure born of a rich history of musical and literary tradition is what you're after, treat yourself to this album. - Tom Orr

CD available from cdRoots

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