Ostâd Elâhi

Danses Célestes

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Vintage recordings from the archives of this deceased (1895-1974) Iranian tanbur player. Recorded in the 1950s and 1960s, some of the pieces appear elsewhere in other versions by him, but that's irrelevant. As he noted, each time he played a piece, it was different. Although the essence of his melodies, even in something lengthy like "Supplique dans la Suite de Bâbâ Fâqi," is simple, his lengthy and superbly imaginative improvisations lift it to another plane. He's a fearless musician, led by his heart, and a very good, adventurous singer who's not afraid of defying tradition in the way he tackles pieces. In fact, there's an ecstatic quality to much of the music here. At times, as on "Sama Suite," the rhythm seems to change erratically, but there's a logic to it, even as he overlaps layers of melody. He uses the five strings of his instrument like as magician, both in tone and note, creating moods and flights that transcend everyday life and take the listener on a journey.

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