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Kayhan Kalhor and Erdal Erzincan: The Wind (2006)

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Kayhan Kalhor and Erdal Erzincan: The Wind How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The Wind, a collaboration between two master musicians, is as good an example of musical interaction as you will ever hope to hear. Duet albums between master musicians from different traditions used to be a rare occurence in the past. But in this rapidly shrinking world, more and more musicians are trying to expand their musicial spheres by collaborating with artists from other cultures.

Kayhan Kalhor has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the world's greatest kamancheh (Iranian spike fiddle) players, and the mastery he displays here is proof of this statement. As one of Iran's most accomplished composers, he is no stranger to collaborative barrier-breaking projects like this one. Very few musicians are as capable of balancing tradition and innovation as Kalhor, best represented on a project such as Ghazal.

On this record, Kalhor is joined by the excellent baglama (a saz-like stringed instrument) player Erdal Erzincan in a recital of classic and contemporary works in the linked Persian, Arabic and Ottoman-Turkish traditions. To listeners who aren't very familiar with the styles of the Near East, Middle East or North Africa, the music from these regions may sound the same. While there are great similarities, it is important to stress that these regions and the countries within each have their own strong musical cultures. Musical interchanges have been happening for ages, and in this case both Persian and Turkish music have assimilated many melodic features from the Arab, Turkish, Persian or Caucasian regions, while still retaining their own features.

The Wind consists of twelve improvised instrumental compositions, and there's no way of telling of who is influencing whom. Middle Eastern music incorporates a classical tradition rooted in medieval theories and practices, yet it favors the art of improvisation. Considerable importance is placed on such improvisational genres such as the taqasim (the Turkish taksim), ie. modally based improvisations.

When these two musicians play together, the results are bound to be mesmerizing. Kalhor and Erzincan blend together quite well, and they engage in fascinating dialogues, thus generating moments of stunning aesthetic beauty. Ocasionally, they are joined by Ulas Ozdemir on divan baglama (bass saz). This interplay is the key to the recording's success—The Wind always feels like a true collaboration. Both players are quite capable of either carrying the lead or providing supportive accompaniment, and they strike a real balance on this record. They are such masters of expression that each is capable of getting his point across. The virtuosity on The Wind is a sheer delight; Kalhan's fingers create beautiful melodies behind Erzincan and Ozdemir's works.

The Wind is a very captivating meditative and imaginative album which will attract anyone who enjoys long instrumental improvisations. With two great traditions brought together in this way, this is world music at its finest.

Track Listing: Part I; Part II; Part III; Part IV; Part V; Part VI; Part VII; Part VIII; Part IX; Part X; Part XI; Part XII.

Personnel: Kayhan Kalhor: kamancheh (Iranian spike fiddle); Erdal Erzincan: baglama (Turkish saz); Ula? zdemir: divan baglama (Turkish bass saz).

Record Label: ECM Records

Style: Latin/World


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