Kayhan Kalhor

The Wind

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Kayhan Kalhor, who plays a four-stringed Persian spiked fiddle (or bowed lute) called the kamancheh, is one of the most renowned Iranian musicians -- and one of few who have made a dent in the West. Known for involving himself in collaborations that allow him to explore outside of his chosen realm, he's been a member of the duo Ghazal (with Indian sitarist and vocalist Shujaat Husain Khan) and the group Masters of Persian Music. Kalhor is a seeker, always looking for a new avenue down which to turn. He's found a stunningly landscaped one with The Wind, on which he teams with the Turk Erdal Erzincan, who plays the baglama, a stringed instrument in the oud family. The Wind marks the first time that Kalhor has worked with a Turkish musician and came about only after Kalhor first made several research trips to Istanbul to familiarize himself with the Turkish approach and explore the possibilities of a mutually satisfying relationship. Both artists are schooled in their native classical traditions but are open-minded enough to reach beyond. The Wind, which also includes contributions from Ulas Özdemir on divan baglama (essentially a bass version of the instrument Erzincan plays) is an entirely improvised work, divided into 12 break-free sections. Like an Indian raga, the music travels in an arc, drawing the listener in while building in intensity. The musicians start their journey tentatively, getting to know each other by easing along at a steady pace but venturing leisurely and daringly down side roads, taking in the sights and then finally driving home. They're in no hurry to get there, and along the way they suggest many possible routes before deciding where to head. Both Kalhor and Erzincan are exquisite players and mesh seamlessly on this tranquil yet ceaselessly probing exercise in discovery and mutual admiration.

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