Kayhan Kalhor

In the Mirror of the Sky

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The Persian and Kurdish musical traditions are neighbors, but rarely meet. But in this case they've come together spectacularly in the hands of two Iranians. Kayhan Kalhor (Ghazal, Master of Persian Music) is a remarkable performer on the kamancheh, or traditional spike fiddle, while Ali Akbar Moradi is a master of the lute-like tanbur. While the tanbur has long been associated with the Yarsan people of Western Iran, and its Ahl-e Haqq faith, Moradi has given it secular exposure. Here, in fact, with Kalhor, he explores the traditional tanbur repertoire of the Yarsan, the two (along with drummer Pejman Hadadi) fashioning wonderful improvisations on Yanbur themes. There's an instinctive communication between the musicians that creates a tension and a palpable magic (just listen to the filigree that's "Gel-e Darreh-foroud," for example). Both have the technique and imagination to carry this off in style. It's more than full of Eastern promise; it's an absolute delight to the ears to hear these two playing off each other, or tackling pieces like "Maqam-eAlwand-Avaz," where Kalhor plays around Moradi's vocal before they take off for the instrumental stratosphere. Essentially, there's nothing exotic about this except the sound of the instruments themselves. It's simply a gorgeous piece of work, very accessible, the sound of two virtuosos collaborating.

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